The sculptress and artist Anna Petrus studied in London, was educated at Ahltin’s Painting School in Sweden and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm from 1911 to 1915. She was one of the first to be commissioned as a designer by Svenskt Tenn’s founder Estrid Ericson in the 1920s, which developed into a fruitful collaboration that continued for many years. With a distinct aesthetic and vast knowledge within her field, she pioneered the way for pewter and highlighted its many uses during the pewter renaissance in the first half of the 1900s.
A couple of years before Svenskt Tenn was founded, during the exhibition at Liljevalchs Gallery in Stockholm 1922, Anna Petrus showed a plated mirror featuring a majestic lion inspired by the carthagic art in Timgad. The lion made recurring appearances in several exhibitions during that period, and eventually became a trademark for Anna Petrus, who included it in several designs, from brooches and bottle openers to fireplace fenders.
In addition to the many lion sculptures and reliefs designed throughout the years, Anna Petrus created several pots and vases, including the popular vase ‘Head of Janus’ from the late 1920s. The design is inspired by ancient Roman mythology and portrays the god Janus, with his two faces and enigmatical archaic smiles. One face is turned towards the future, as a symbol of the curiosity of the youth, while the other is facing the past, as a symbol of elderly wisdom.
Although she often turned to the East when searching for inspiration, there were several aesthetics and eras that had an impact on her style. One example is the Profile vase, designed for Svenskt Tenn in 1927, with relief motifs that exhibits clear influences from Nordic Classicism. Anna Petus work and achievements for the Swedish art scene has left an important mark in history. Today, she is remembered as one of the most important female artists of her time.