The Upper Terrace

This is the oldest part of Millesgården. Carl Milles bought this piece of land at the top of Herserud cliff in 1906, and began to build houses and studios for himself and Olga Milles. In the course of the next few years the appearance of the Upper Terrace changed constantly through extensions and conversions, and through the fact that Carl Milles moved the sculptures around in order to try out new locations for them. Today, the entire Upper Terrace is surrounded by buildings and is only open facing the water.

Originally, visitors entered through an entrance to the west. In the 1920s the porter´s lodge and the Small Studio were built and the grounds were given a magnificent main entrance through a large, marble portal that once belonged to Hotel Rydberg at Gustav Adolfs Torg in Stockholm. Carl Milles acquired it when the hotel was demolished in 1914. The portal is but one example of how Carl Milles bought parts of condemned buildings and incorporated them into Millesgården´s environments, most often pillars and columns. An example is the column placed on the Upper Terrace, which originates from King Gustav III's opera house in Stockholm that was demolished in 1891 and located on the site of the current opera house. 

After passing the marble portal, visitors arrive at a green gate and then a small courtyard, enclosed by an iron railing with large wrought-iron gates displaying Carl Milles' motto: Låt mig verka medan dagen brinner [Pray, let me work while the day is bright] - which he borrowed from a poem by his sister Ruth Milles.

The Little Triton 1916

A triton is the male equivalent of a mermaid in Greek mythology. The son of the sea god, Poseidon, is called Triton, and the word triton is derived from his name. In the legend, Triton is a mischievous boy, who likes to squirt water from a shell. This is precisely what the Little Triton does. The boy, half man and half fish, with two tailfins, squirts water, making him wet all over. Carl Milles played with the materials when he mixed water with the bronze in the figure and black granite in the grooved basin. The fountain was created for Gothenburg but the commissioners discovered that it resembled the Italian baroque sculptor Bernini´s triton fountain in Piazza Barbarini in Rome. Carl Milles pointed out that the similarity was intentional. He wanted to create an interpretation of Bernini´s fountain with a Triton portrayed as a boy and not an old man, as in Bernini´s version. The fountain was purchased by Prince Eugen for Waldemarsudde. Triton is one of the moons of the planet Neptune. 

A la belle étoile 1900

The sculpture is hewn in sandstone. It portrays two persons sitting on a park bench, leaning against each other and sleeping. The bench is double-sided and there is a person lying on the other side and sleeping. Carl Milles has explained that this figure represents himself. Three persons sleeping under the starry sky in Paris. 

The Dancing Girls 1917

Carl Milles created several pieces with dancing women. At the turn of the last century a new form of free dance developed. Carl Milles was a great admirer of this modern dance and attended many performances both in Paris and in Stockholm. Dancing meant short moments of hovering and the dancers lose contact, if only momentarily, with the ground. When Carl Milles sculpted dancing women, it was the first time that he was interested in the concept of hovering and lacking gravity, concepts which later nearly dominate his sculptures.

The Little Naiad 1916

A naiad is a water nymph of Greek mythology. We would call her a mermaid. Carl Milles created many naiads. The Little Naiad stands in a bowl supported by a twisted column. There is much to discover in the fountain,  details on the naiad, the many figures on the underside of the bowl and in the basin. There is also a text at the bottom of the pedestal, a small poem, composed by Carl Milles, explaining the history of the fountain. Naiad is one of the moons of the planet Neptune.

The Susanna Fountain 1916

In the place originally called Vattugården, there is now the Susanna Fountain. 

The site was rebuilt several times before 1915, when Carl Milles and his brother Evert Milles, an architect, decided on the present-day appearance. By blasting away some of the rock, a lowered basin could be constructed. It is surrounded by walls with niches for sculptures. In the center of the water is the Susanna Fountain from 1916. The sculpture is hewn in one single piece of black granite in the heavy style with full smooth surfaces and gentle forms that were typical for Carl Milles at this time. Susanna is a figure from the OId Testament.

The basin was originally deep enough to swim in. Large trees, weeping willows, grew all around. Over the years, the roots of the trees pushed up into the basin and it started to leak. Every time the basin has been reset, it has become increasingly shallow. The weeping willows have now been removed. 

William Penn with angel 1948

The founder of Pennsylvania, William Peen (1644-1718), is portrayed in clothing from the time. It looks as though he is listening to something. Maybe he senses the presence of the angel which is standing directly behind him and whispering in his ear. The angel is a colored man in a loin-cloth but with angel's wings.

William Penn was a quaker who travelled to the USA from England and founded the state of Pennsylvania. He was opposed to the persecution of persons based on the color of their skin or their religion, and had laws passed which were very humanitarian for their time. It attracted people from all around to Pennsylvania. For Carl Milles, it was therefore logical that the angel which watches over William Penn is a man of color. The sculpture is part of a sketch for a large fountain which was never realized.


Carl Milles created many portraits. The portraits along the Susanna Fountain and on the little terrace to the left of the fountain, depict famous persons who were also often friends of Carl Milles. The portraits, made in granite or bronze, were made in the early days, from 1906 to 1911, and focus on a resemblance with the subjects. Later in his career, similarity was not as important. Carl Milles made portraits which are dramatic portrayals of the model. For example the portrait of Scheele the chemist or Emanuel Swedenborg, the scientist and philosopher (in the Red Room). Carl Milles also made symbolic portrayals of persons, for example the Sun Singer, a memorial monument dedicated to Esaias Tegnér.