A painting of two people sitting outside in a garden and drinking coffee.
Photo: Helena Bonnevier, Hallwyl museum/SHM.
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On view: March 22, 2024 – January 12, 2025

Lim-Johan and The Remarkable Honesty

The artist Johan Erik Olsson (1865–1944), better known as Lim-Johan, is considered one of our foremost Swedish naïve artists. He was born in Hälsingland, the district in northern Sweden were the von Hallwyl family owned large tracts of forest and ran a sawmill business. The forest and surroundings in his hometown were a great inspiration for his well-known artworks.

He achieves his major breakthrough only after his death; when his art is discovered by the philosophy doctor Philibert Humbla in the late 1940s. In the exhibition, visitors get to experience Lim-Johan's painting, woodcarving, and photography.

A painting of a house.
Photo: Helena Bonnevier, Hallwyl museum/SHM.

A true animal lover

After his mental health deteriorated in his thirties, he was admitted to the psychiatric hospital Upsala Hospital Asylen for eight years. From that period, some wood carvings are preserved, such as the lying dog displayed in the exhibition. He was a true animal lover, and his artworks reflect the calm soul of domesticated animals.

"The thing that makes his art so beautiful is that it's like going to the sea. The sea is so magnificent in and of itself".

- The artist Sara-Vide Ericson about Lim-Johan's artworks.

His inner dream world

After help from friends to leave the hospital, he was able to return to his hometown. In the beginning, after returning home, he moved around between different farms. After a while, he acquired a piece of land and was able to build his own cottage. There, Lim-Johan lived until the end of his life. It was in this little cottage that he created most of the paintings displayed in the exhibition. In the paintings, we get to experience his rich inner dream world.

Paintings hanging in the exhibition.
Close-up of a dog carved in wood.
In the background, a black-and-white portrait of Lim-Johan is visible, and in the foreground stands a gramophone.

A film about Lim-Johan

Listen to different voices speak about Lim-Johans artistic work and life, in the forests of Hälsingland and at Upsala Asylum. The film is 17 minutes long.

Video: Karin Bogaeus, Hallwyl museum/SHM.

The art adorned outhouses – today coveted artworks

He was critical of his paintings and never sold a single one. He gave away paintings to neighbours and often said about the finished works, "Just rubbish, put 'em on the outhouse!" which led to many of Lim-Johan's works being hung in outdoor toilets. With the advent of the flush toilet, the paintings disappeared as outhouses were demolished. The latest painting by Lim-Johan, ”Älg och stövare”, was auctioned at Bukowskis, the leading auction house in the Nordics, for 500,000 SEK in 2016.

Photo: Helena Bonnevier, Hallwyl museum/SHM.

The Photographer

Towards the end of his life, Lim-Johan devoted himself to photography. He documented large parts of the areas around Edsbyn with his camera – today, more than a thousand glass negatives from that time are preserved. Some photographs have been retouched. He crossed out those he disliked, added to, and embellished where he felt it was needed. He was a frequently hired photographer and sold many of his photographs.

Self-portrait of Lim-Johan. Photo: Lim-Johan, Edsbyn Museum.

Visit the exhibition

Welcome to the Hallwyl museum and experience 18 paintings, out of a total of 29 preserved paintings by Lim-Johan, along with ten wood carvings, eighteen glass negatives, as well as photographs and personal items. The exhibition is displayed on the Guest Room Floor and opens on March 22, 2024.

Admission fees

  • Regular admission: SEK 120 (retirees and students)
  • Free admission for children and youth aged 0-18.

Information for your visit

  • Wardrobe: It is not allowed to bring jackets or bags into the museum. There are lockers in the museum entrance.
  • Food and beverages: It is not allowed to bring food and beverages into the museum.
  • Strollers: Due to safety reasons, strollers are not allowed inside the museum. The nearest place to secure strollers is at Norrmalmstorg.

Plan your visit


The Hallwyl Museum has five floors, but unfortunately, no elevator. The only way around the museum is via stairs. The number of steps varies depending on where you want to go in the house. If you want to take a guided tour of the house, it means at least 103 steps up and down.

About accessibility in the palace