The Lower Terrace

The Lower Terrace was built in the 1950s when Carl and Olga Milles returned to Europe after 20 years in the USA. They spent the winters in Rome and many summers at Millesgården. The Lower Terrace was inspired by the Italian piazza; Carl Milles wanted an open, paved square with tinkling fountains and room for lots of people. The terrace's red-toned sandstone is made of quartzite from Älvdalen. 

When Carl Milles extended Millesgården in the 1940s and 1950s, he wrote that he wished to create a meeting place for people and his plans were all but conventional for a museum park. He wanted to create rinks for ice and roller skating, a swimming pool, as well as a waterfall. Many of his plans were never realised but the waterfall was built. It is the incavation in the wall facing Lake Värtan. Above the walled ledge on the outside of the wall, the water was to gush and fall ca. 30 metres towards Lake Värtan, where Poseidon would stand and keep watch. The waterfall was never switched on.

The Astronomer 1940

The sculpture depicts a naked figure standing and looking up towards the sky. In one hand he is holding a compass, in the other a sort of shere. 

Astronomy was Carl Milles´ great interest. As a child, he learned the names of the constellations from his father. Throughout his adult life, he studied astronomy and purchased a telescope early in his life. The home at Millesgården has a tower which was used as an observatory. Over time, Carl Milles´ interest in astronomy developed into an interest in the bigger questions, focusing on the creation of the universe and human existence. Could the Astronomer be a self-portrait of Milles´ The artist attempting to grasp the mystery of life. 

The sphere in the Astronomer´s hand has a symbolic meaning. It is a dodecahedron a twelve-sided figure. According to the Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 B.C.), the four elements earth, fire, air and water, are represented by different geometrical bodies. For example, fire is represented by the pyramid, and earth by the cube. Plato also mentions a fifth element called the ether, which he described as an invisible material existing in space. This fifth element was, according to Plato represented by the geometrical body which is twelve-sided, or the dodecahedron.

The Astronomer is therefore holding in his hand a symbol for space, one of Carl Milles´ great interests. The compass in the other hand is a tool used both by the astronomer and by the sculptor. Carl Milles worked with this theme between 1938 and 1940. One version of the Astronomer in a larger format was displayed at the New York World Fair in 1939. The Astronomer at Millesgården is a replica of a statue which stands at the art museum in Philadelphia.

Europe and the Bull 1926

Europe and the Bull is the largest fountain at Millesgården. In 1921, Carl Milles was commissioned to make a proposal for a town fountain for the square in Halmstad. Five years later the fountain was completed. The story of Europe and the Bull is a classical myth. The god Zeus transformed himself into a bull in order to carry away the beautiful princess Europe, whom he had fallen in love with. He takes her to the island of Crete. 

Europe and the Bull are surrounded by tritons, men with fish fins who are part of Poseidon's retinue. In the Europe fountain at Millesgården there is also Sun Glitter, a sculpture from 1918 representing a mermaid riding on the back of a dolphin. 

Zeus is the name of the most important god in Greek mythology. In Rome, they called this god Jupiter, the same name as the largest planet. The planet Jupiter has several moons circling it, all with names of figures from the myths who were important to Zeus. One of the moons is called Europe.

Folke Filbyter 1927

Carl Milles created Folke Filbyter for Linköping, where the sculpture is part of a large fountain, the Folkunga Fountain. The writer Verner von Heidenstam, a close friend to Carl Milles, wrote in his book Folkungaträdet about Folke Filbyter and his relatives of the Folkunga dynasty. Carl Milles used the story and selected a episode where Folke Filbyter goes in search of his lost grandchild. Riding on his horse, he crosses a brook where the horse slips on the slippery stones, creating the dramatic movement. The horse and rider twist in opposite directions to regain the balance. 
The pedestal shows historical scenes in relief from the Middle Ages with connections to the history of the Folkunga dynasty.

Genius 1923

The sculpture is also called the Angel playing the lyre. The male angel bends over in a strong movement toward the ground while lifting a lyre skyward. Milles show the angel for the first time in 1923. It was planned as a monument for August Strindberg´s gravestone. Later, during the 1930s, it was set on the gravestone of the actor Gösta Ekman.

The Lyre is a constellation in the northern hemisphere.

Poseidon 1930

Poseidon is the god of the sea in Greek mythology. In the early 1920s, Carl Milles received a commission to create a fountain for Götaplatsen in Göteborg. The work in making the fountain was conducted between 1925 and 1930. Poseidon is mighty figure, seven meters tall, standing naked with steady legs on a rock. In one hand he holds a fish, in the other a shell. Poseidon appears to be part of the ocean to which he belongs. His hair is made of mussels, his hat is a shell, and his face can be described as wild, powerful and a far cry from classically beautiful. In the myths, Poseidon is both temperamental and unpredictable.

At Millesgården, Poseidon watches over the Värtan waters the kingdom of the sea over which he reigns, according to legend.

The sculpture was created keeping in mind the placement at Götaplatsen in Göteborg. There, Poseidon looks out toward Kungsport Avenue. The basin in which he stands is filled with various inhabitants of the ocean - fish, lobsters, crabs and mermaids. At Millesgården, Poseidon is nearly alone in his fountain, but not completely. Look carefully at the rock on which he is standing there are a few figures there.

Poseidons counterpart in Rome was Neptune. This is also the name of a planet. All the moons of Neptune have been named after mythological creatures of the sea. They have names like Triton, Naiad and Nereid. All three can be found as sculptures at Millesgården.

St. Martin Fountain 1955

The fountain is Carl Milles' last completed work of art. At the request of the city council of Kansas City, the artist made a monument dedicated to a man from the city who had for many years, anonymously, donated money to charity. Carl Milles chose the legend of St Martin as a subject for the fountain. The holy Martin was a saint from the fourth century who was very charitable and gave to the poor. Here he is cutting a corner of his cloak to give the reclining beggar as clothes. This is also an equestrian sculpture, and just like Folke Filbyter, the horse and rider are twisting in different directions, thereby creating a powerful movement.

On either side of the rider there is an angel and a faun.

The angel, a naked boy angel, sits lost in thought in a strange position with one leg under him and the other at an angle to the body. Carl Milles describes in a letter that this angel is scratching a mosquito bite. He wears a watch on his left wrist. A human angel, in other words. He has wings, but he also uses a watch and gets bitten by mosquitoes. Like many of Milles' angels, it belongs both on the earth and in the heavens.

The faun is hiding behind a bush and watching the angel. Fauns can be found in the classical myths and are a mixture between a human and a goat. This one is more animal than man with a hairy lower body, bearded face and horns.

In the myths, the faun belonged to the company of the god of wine Dionysos and all that this entailed with partying and sexual adventures. One assumption, therefore, is that the faun represents the corporeal or the earthbound, while the angel represents the spiritual or heavenly.

Skating Angels 1948

Carl Milles made many angels from the 1940s and onwards. They are often rollicking boy angels playing instruments or, as here, ice skating. Thanks to their wings the skaters can throw each other up in the air and land softly. Note that the skates are attached directly to the angels' feet.

God our Father on the Rainbow 1949

At the end of the 1940s, Carl Milles made a sketch for a sculpture with God, our Father who stands on the rainbow and sets out the stars in the sky, or is he taking them down? His assistant is a small angel standing at the foot of the rainbow. The sculpture was to be built in the shape of a fountain and erected in front of the UN building in New York, but this never came to be. In 1995 the sculpture was realized with the help of Milles´ student, Marshall Frederick, who enlarged the sketch and made the fountain in full scale at Nacka Strand. There the water shoots from the rainbow and creates a half-circle shaped arch. God our Father stands at the very top of the rainbow arch.

The Hand of God 1953

A small man standing in a large hand. He looks upward and his body is tense, his fingers spread wide. Granted, he balances on the thumb and forefinger of the large hand, which seems strenuous. But his focus lies elsewhere. The man´s attention is directed toward something in the heavens, as if he were receiving a message or carrying on a conversation.

Carl Milles worked with God´s Hand between 1949 and 1953. Initially, it was made for Eskilstuna, and today it can be found in many locations in the world, such as Tokyo, Melbourne and Beijing. 

The sculpture is elevated on a tall column. This is the case with many of Carl Milles´ later sculptures. Already as a young man, Carl Milles was very interested in astronomy. This interest grew with age and finally applied to all things connected with the heavens and the universe, as well as questions about the existence of God. 

Toward the end of his life he often raised his sculptures high up on tall pillars, in order to make them a part of the heavens which fascinated him so much.

Indian head 1936

The indian head is a detail from the Peace Monument which Carl Milles made in St Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Carl Milles was commissioned to create a monument for an entrance hall in St Paul City Hall, which was also to function as a memorial hall over fallen soldiers from World War I. The commission was for a war monument. Carl Milles chose instead to make a peace monument. He returned to an experience he had had a few years ago in the USA, when he had participated in a peace ceremony among Indians in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Carl Milles had in mind the indian god Manitou when he created the monument in the form of a stylized indian. It was hewn in a special, yellow-white onyx from Mexico. The choice of material brings to mind prehistoric Mexican indian sculptures. The Peace Monument in St Paul is twelve meters tall and spins slowly on its own axis. A number of small indians are seated on the pedestal.

The indian head at Millesgården is hewn in black granite. 

The Indian, or Indus, is a constellation on the southern hemisphere.

Man and the unicorn 1938

This sculpture came about at the end of the 1930s, in the same period as the Astronomer. Here we also see a man looking up toward the heavens, but in this work of art the man is sitting astride a unicorn. The unicorn is a fairytale animal which can be found both in legends and in art as far back as antiquity. Unicorns resemble horses. They are white and have a twisted horn on their foreheads. Unicorns represent purity and goodness and have both spiritual and bodily strength. 

The Unicorn, or Monoceros, is the name of a constellation in the southern hemisphere.

Angel Musicians 1949-50

Carl Milles sculpted the angels in the USA and they are represented in fountains around the world. As so often with Carl Milles, the angels are naked boy angels, playing different wind instruments. The pan-pipe-playing angel is the main character in the book "Malte möter Ängel" en majkväll på Millesgården (Malte meets Angel - a May Evening at Millesgården).

Man and Pegasus 1949

The sculpture is raised high on a very tall column. In Greek mythology, Pegasus is the flying horse of the gods, and a child of Poseidon. In one legend, the hero Bellerophon rides Pegasus. Carl Milles created his sculpture in USA for Des Moines in Iowa. The horse is endowed with powerful wings and flies at an angle toward the sky. The man has nearly detached himself from the horse and appears to fly of his own volition. It is an image of mans potential and the power of imagination as much as an illustration of the myth of Bellerophon and Pegasus. 

Pegasus is a constellation in the northern hemisphere. In Sweden, Pegasus is most clearly visible during the autumn.

Fountain of Faith

In the early 1940s, Carl Milles started work on his largest fountain group yet, the Fountain of Faith, for the cemetery in Falls Church outside Washington. The theme for the fountain is the meeting of persons who have died. Here, mothers are reunited with their children, sisters with their brothers, and wives with their husbands. All the figures represent people who the artist knew and loved during his life. At Millesgården, there is no replica of the fountain, but several of the figures are represented.

Woman reunited with her child. Carl Milles had during his life several times experienced how death separated mothers from their children. He himself was only four years old when his mother Walborg died after giving birth to his younger brother Stig.

Jonah and the whale 1932

The fountain can be found near Detroit, at Cranbrook Academy, a school for art and design where Carl Milles taught for 20 years. Jonah is a figure from the Old Testament. He has found himself in the belly of a whale in his flight from God. In this work of art, Jonah is portrayed at the precise moment when the whale jettisons him from his belly. The whale rises up above the waves and a multitude of small fish spray them with water. Carl Milles has created Jonah as a somewhat comic figure, possibly influenced by the popular versions of the Old Testament and Erik Axel Karlfeldt's poem about Jonah.  Jonah also strongly resembles a Buddha figure. 

The Whale, or Cetus, is a constellation in the southern hemisphere.