Carl Johan Trygg

Born: 1877  |  Died: 1954

Carl Johan Trygg. Montreal, Saint-Sauveur, Quebec. C. J. Trygg was active from 1915 – 1950; both in Sweden and in Canada.

Carl Johan Trygg emigrated to Canada in 1928. At the age of forty, he was already a very successful artist in Sweden carving figures in the Scandinavian flat-plane carving tradition.  He settled in Montreal and continued his work selling in Galleries across Quebec and in the rest of Canada. He eventually moved to the Saint-Sauveur area in the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal where he built a studio makiing his own sculptures and teaching the art of flat plane carving to others. His students included Pat and Charles Hannah from Verdun, Quebec. C. J. Trygg’s three sons became carvers as well: Carl Olaf Trygg (1910-1993), Nils Trygg (1914-1951) and and Lars Trygg. Carl Olaf and Carl Johan eventually returned to Sweden after the second world war where they continued carving. Lars Trygg, who was born in Canada, as far as I know stayed in North America as did Nils Trygg (although there is some confusion about this). There was a relative; Ellen Trygg who also carved. Her pieces are rarely found, however and I am not sure if she signed her work.

The Trygg family carvings are always painted and their carvings always have an applied base; typically fastened with two small common nails (1 inch long). They were nearly always signed; often with a chisel on the front of the base. Simply “TRYGG”, and often on the bottom of the base in script with a pen. Carl Johan Trygg, in Quebec, signed: “C.J.Trygg” in script with a pen and often, but not always, wrote “Quebec”. Carl Olaf signed: “C.O. Trygg” in script also and often wrote “Quebec”. Occasionally on the Quebec pieces we will see “Hand carved by Trygg”. Very occasionally there will be additional information on the base; a price or a date. If there is another name it is usually that of the collector. They almost always carved in Basswood.

They typically made  figures , often Tramps and Hobos and workers in trades: Fishermen, Farmers, and their Wives, Policemen and Sea Captains among others. And occasionally Political figures; an example by Carl Johan  Trygg that I have seen is Winston Churchill with a Bull Dog and cigar, of course. Carl Johan Trygg also made decorative household things such as Ashtrays with a figure applied and Pipe Racks. (See the images below) They carved different sizes of figures, typically six or seven inches tall and more rarely twelve inch carvings. Again, always in paint, with bright primary colors. Their wood carvings are sometimes referred to as “Caricature” Carvings.

Two carvings by Carl Johan Trygg. (1930’s):

A Pipe Rack:

Carl Johan Trygg. Quebec. Carving of a Pipe Rack with Fisherman.

Carl Johan Trygg. Quebec. Carving of a Pipe Rack with Fisherman.

 

An Ashtray and Match Holder with a Woman:

Wood carving by Carl Johan Trygg, Quebec. Woman and Ashtray.

Wood carving by Carl Johan Trygg, Quebec. Woman and Ashtray.

 

C. J. Trygg. Carving of a Hobo. 12 inches high:

C. J. Trygg. Quebec. Canada. Hobo carving.

C. J. Trygg. Quebec. Canada. Hobo carving.

 

C. J. Trygg. His mark:

C. J. Trygg. Quebec. His mark.

C. J. Trygg. Quebec. His mark.