John Bauer

The artist John Bauer’s spirit rests on BauerGården and pictures and paintings as well as books on and illustrations of him can be found in the Bauer room.

The colors from his paintings have inspired the interior of the hotel, which is signified by the forest’s colors and the blue colors of the water. The nature in Bunn can be experienced through hikes, bike rides or a wonderful boat trip in the lake Bunn.

The childhood in Jönköping

John Bauer is born in 1882 and grows up at Östra torget in Jönköping. The family runs a slaughterhouse on the ground floor of the wooden house and lives on the upper floor.  Here it is full of life and movement during the days.

John is one of four siblings, big brother Hjalmar, big sister Anna and little brother Ernst. Anna tragically dies only thirteen are old and leave the family in great grief. The family’s slaughtering business goes well and in 1881 the family can build a beautiful summer residence at Rocksjön, Villa Sjövik. Johns early sketches show the house and surroundings around Rocksjön which at that time was surrounded by forest. Already 16 years old he leaves Jönköping to study in Stockholm. But it takes two years before he is admitted to the Art Academy. During the two years, John doubts much about his ability.

John and Esther

The joy is great when he is finally accepted. During his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, he meets the bright-eyed and exuberant Esther Ellqvist, who becomes his great love. She becomes the role model of the princesses he recurring.

Many of the letters that Esther and John wrote to each other during times they were separated are the basis for knowing so much about John Bauer’s life today. The two are deepely in love at first but their love over the years endure many setbacks. Esther who is grown up in Stockholm thrives best in life and movement, while John preferably spends his time in the Småland forests.

John and the nature

John Bauer is already at an early age inspired and fascinated by nature. As a young boy, he wanders around in Jönköping and in the woods around the family summer house Villa Sjövik. After living in Stockholm for a few years as a young adult, John returns to Småland. He looks for a home for him and his wife Esther in the areas around Jönköping. It’s important to John that the cottage is surrounded by beautiful nature. So he grabs a backpack with sandwiches and a sketch pad, hops on his bike and takes a long tour around the area of southern lake Vättern. Finally, he finds what he’s looking for in Bunn, and he writes to Esther:

“I’ve found a small cottage in a hill in a forest by a lake called Bunn, which is not far from Gränna and Vättern. It is beautiful there, and the forests are grand and in the lake there are plenty of islands, and you can see far above all of it.”

The years in Bunn

After spending some time in Italy, John and Esther moves to Bunn, but not to the small cottage that John found on his initial trip. Instead, they are able to rent Villa Björkudden situated just by the lake, from an artist friend of theirs. Here, they plan to make a home for themselves that inspires art and creativity, and to start a family. Nature is a mere stone’s throw away, and John often spends long days in the woods. Amongst the pines, the moss clad stones and windthrows, John sees shapes and images that he turns into trolls, fairies and other creatures in his paintings.

John loves to travel by canoe on lake Bunn. In Bunn’s channels, branches stretches out across the water and form leafy tunnels. The variation in the landscape astonishes Bauer. In a letter to a friend, he describes his new surroundings:

“We have long ridges, dense forests and cliffs. But we also have bright birch groves, meadows and rich fields. And the air from lake Vättern and the wide horizon.”


The varied landscape is a never-ending source of inspiration for Bauer. He paints mysterious gnomes, magnificent princesses and gallant knights. All with nature as a background, inside the deepest and darkest forests, but also high up on the ridges overlooking Bunn with lake Vättern glimmering in the distance.

The nature around Bunn spurs the imagination in both kids and adults. Here at BauerGården, the woods are always prominent. All you have to do is take a few steps into the woods, and you’ll soon be able to see the characters just like John himself saw them, in hollow trees and lichen clad stones.

Branches and roots are easily transformed into gangly arms and moss clad troll feet. Maybe, you’ll even be able to see Skutt the elk as he majestically wanders around in his kingdom.

From the water, you’ll experience the landscape from another perspective, and as you silently drift along the channels you can almost feel the mystique of Bauer’s illustrations as the sun seeps down through pines and leaves. Fairies dance in the mist rising from Bunn at night, and you almost feel as if you’re in one of Bauer’s beautiful sketches yourself.

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