After more than two years of work, the long-awaited The Faces of New Sweden is now available and was premiered at the New Sweden History Conference on November 20 in Wilmington, DE. It is a perfect-bound book and includes many full color reproductions of the recently rediscovered paintings of Pastor Erik Björk and his wife Christina Stalcop.
Erik Björk was one of the three Church of Sweden priests sent to America in 1697 by Jesper Svedberg and King Carl XI to revive the churches and serve the remaining Swedes on the Delaware. He was pastor at Holy Trinity (Old Swedes’) Church in Wilmington from 1697 until 1713.
The portraits of Björk and his wife seem to date to 1712 and are by America’s first portrait painter, Gustavus (Gustaf) Hesselius, who was the brother of the next two Swedish priests to serve in Wilmington, Andreas Hesselius and Samuel Hesselius.
The family background of the painter Gustavus Hesselius and the families of Erik Björk and Christina Stalcop is told by the author Hans Ling of Uppsala, Sweden, legal advisor to the National Heritage Board and a Forefather member of the Swedish Colonial Society.
The fascinating story of the discovery of these original oils at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm is told by Dr. Peter S. Craig, the Historian of the Swedish Colonial Society.
The editing, indexing and translation was provided by Kim-Eric Williams, the Senior Deputy Governor of the Society. The Foreword, design layout and publishing were the work of Governor Ronald Hendrickson and the firm of Cataleno and Company in Moorestown, NJ.
The publication of this landmark, 104-page book signals a return by the Society to its original purpose. Although the picture book New Sweden: Past, Present & Future was produced by Gov. Hendrickson for the 365th Jubilee in 2003, the Society’s previous publications had been largely the work of the late Amandus Johnson, the last of which came out in 1957. With the final editing of the forthcoming ten volumes of the Gloria Dei Records Project, a new era has begun for the Swedish Colonial Society.
Copies are limited and may be purchased at any meeting of the Swedish Colonial Society for $20 each, or at the gift shop of the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, or in Wilmington at the Delaware History Museum or the Hendrickson House at Holy Trinity (Old Swedes’) Church.
The restored Björk and Stalcop paintings are admired at the 365th Jubilee Celebration in Wilmington in 2003 by SCS Historian Peter Craig (l.), Forefather Member Larry Stallcup, Historical Society of Delaware Chair Ellen Semple, HSD Executive Director Barbara Benson, Forefather Member Lowell Smith, SCS Honorary Governor Herbert Rambo, Kerstin Eliasson, Ambassador of Sweden Jan Eliasson, Stockholm Lord Mayor Barry Andersson and SCS Governor Ronald Hendrickson.