Ehrenstrahl’s equine portrait

At a young age, Karl XI received around twenty horses as a gift from the royal families in Spain and France. He then commissioned portraits of five of his favourites by the artist David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl. The portrait hangs in the Hall of State at Strömsholm Palace.

By his own account, Karl XII often happily stayed at Strömsholm Palace, where he devoted his time to two of his favourite hobbies - riding and hunting.

In those days, people were hugely dependent on horses as transport and work tools, so it was natural to also acquire skills in assessing horses, prizing particularly impressive examples, and appreciating their performance qualities.

This primarily applied to those who could afford to keep numerous horses and those who were employed to care for these horses - while normal people, if they had any horses at all, simply had to make do with whatever luck gave them.

Horses provided social status

Karl XI was interested in horses, both driving and riding them, at an early age. For him, over the years, travelling became increasingly a matter of performance rather than transportation. His diary overflows with details of how long the journeys took, or how many times he was obliged to change horses between Strömsholm and Stockholm, Uppsala and Ulriksdal, Kungsör and Strängnäs.

Many horses and expensive horses gave the owners greater social status. Noble horses were a royal attribute, and became costly and popular gifts between rulers.

Gifts from the Royal Court

As a mere 17-18 year old, Karl XI received around twenty horses as a gift from the Spanish and French Royal Courts.

We do not know what then made him commission life-size portraits of five of his favourites from Ehrenstrahl in 1673.

Unique equine gallery

We do however understand something of the horses’ significance to him, as between 1680-84, he commissioned portraits of a further six, and the same number again in 1689.

Consequently the result is a unique gallery of equine portraits, which in the 18th century, likely amounted to over twenty items. Of these, seventeen portraits remain, seven of which are permanently displayed at Strömsholm Palace.

The artist and nobleman David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl. Portrait by Erik Dahlberg. Photo: Alexis Daflos

Visit us

Pre-booked tours can be given in English or Swedish. For groups with specific interests, tours can focus on topics such as art, furniture...

Read more

Discover more at Strömsholm Palace

Much of the décor at Strömsholm Palace is in the Gustavian style. It was created for King Gustav III's wife, Queen Sofia Magdalena, who w...

Read more

Here, King Gustav Vasa raised horses for the Swedish Army. Today, there is a riding college and annual equestrian competitions are held i...

Read more

At the top of the palace is Carl Hårleman's unique chapel, decorated in the 1730s for Queen Ulrika Eleonora the Younger.

Read more

The Royal Gift Shop sells decorative items, accessories, postcards and classic souvenirs to suit all budgets.

Read more

The Strömsholm Palace Café is situated in a building designed by Carl Hårleman in 1731 that originally housed the palace's kitchen.

Read more

Early in the 1550s, King Gustav Vasa ordered the building of a Palace on a small island in the fast-flowing Kolbäck River. Much of that P...

Read more

Articles and movies

At a young age, Karl XI received around twenty horses as a gift from the royal families in Spain and France. He then commissioned portrai...

Buy ticket

King Gustav Vasa laid the groundwork for Strömsholm Palace when he had an estate built on an island in the Kolbäck River in the 1550s. Af...

Buy ticket

Customer service

Opening hours: Closed


  • Is it possible to hire rooms at the royal palaces for dinner functions/events?

    Strömsholm Palace: The dining room in the Stone Kitchen can be hired for dinner functions.

    The other palaces: Room hire is not possible.

  • Are audio guides available for the royal palaces?

    The Royal Palace of Stockholm: An audio guide in Swedish and English is available for the Bernadotte Apartments and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.

    The Chinese Pavilion: An audio guide is available in Swedish and English

    Audio guides are not available at present for the other palaces.

  • Can I get around by wheelchair/walking frame at the royal palaces?

    Circumstances differ at the various venues. Please look for more information under the heading "Visit us" for the venue you wish to visit or contact our reservations department on +46 (0)8-402 61 00.

  • What currency can I pay with?

    It is possible to pay with Swedish kronor (SEK), Euro and Dollar. For Euro and Dollar only bills are accepted and change is given in Swedish kronor. It is also possible to pay by credit card.

    At the Royal Stables you can pay with Swedish kronor and by debit card, but not with Euro and Dollar.


  • Can I take my bag into the royal palaces?

    Small bags are permitted at our visitor attractions. Rucksacks should be carried in your hand or on your front. Do not leave any bags unattended. Bags and cases with wheels are not permitted.

More FAQ