Olga Milles

Olga Milles, née Granner (1874-1967) was a portrait artist, born in Graz in Austria. When she was twelve years old Olga Granner displayed such artistic talent that her parents sent her to art school. She supported herself by painting portraits. Her commissions came from wealthy Austrians who wanted portraits of their family members.

Olga Granner completed her artistic studies in Munich and Paris and was able to support herself early on. She saw her future as a professional artist, preferably working in a cloister. She met Carl Milles in Paris at the end of the 1890s. They married in 1905. Being married to the man who would soon become Sweden's most famous sculptor made for an unusual lifestyle. Regardless of her, at times, adventurous life with Carl Milles, Olga Granner always asserted her right to her own professional and private life.

Olga Milles painted almost exclusively portraits. However, there is an exception at Millesgården, an oil painting, Still Life in Oil, from 1889, painted when Olga was only 15 years old. There are surprisingly few remaining works by Olga Milles given that she drew and painted her entire life. Olga was known to be very self-critical. She constantly questioned her art and her ability. She probably destroyed many sketches and paintings. Although she painted a lot when young and unmarried, she clearly painted less after her marriage to Carl Milles.

Olga and Carl Milles had no children. In Millesgården's extensive collection of letters one can learn that Olga Milles often visited her parents and her siblings in Austria in the 1910-1920s. Carl Milles often referred to Olga as the only person whose artistic opinions he valued. Only on one occasion did they collaborate: Olga Milles designed the colouration of the large sculpture of Gustav Vasa that Carl Milles created for the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm.

Judging by letters in the collection, Olga Milles was not always particularly interested in the development of Millesgården. She made only two interior decorations: the paintings on the cupboards in the breakfast room and the floor outside the Red Room. She and Carl Milles donated Millesgården to the Swedish people in 1936. After Carl Milles' death, Olga Milles spent her final years in Graz, where she died in 1967 aged 93. Olga Milles is buried at Millesgården.
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