Jansson was a cursed painter as his works were rejected by his contemporaries and were mostly unknown abroad.
Born into a modest Stockholm family, Jansson suffered from a heart disease and suffered at 13 from a bout of scarlet fever which left him almost deaf and affected with kidney problems.
He studied painting at the Stockholm Academy of Fine Arts but soon rejected academism
He was however supported by King Olaf II and Ernest Thiel, a banker, whose purchases enabled him to live almost comfortably but such patronage stirred antagonisms in official circles against him.
Jansson, who proclaimed himself a socialist and a homosexual, was thus the target of many critics, who also lashed their fury at Edvard Munch, until his death at 53.
Jansson had much in common with Munch, especially at the start of his career and notably when he painted seaside scenes or sombre houses in dunes or wastelands. But, contrary to Munch, he also painted many nocturnal scenes scratching colours on the canvas and then applying them again to show the reflection of the moon, the lights of gas-lamps with incredible intensity.
Jansson achieved incredible results with these scenes though they were simply defined and some of his works have the same effect of the stars in the sky which Van Gogh painted in Arles.
After 1904, Jansson gave up the representation of landscapes and nocturnal scenes and painted a self-portrait and male nudes in defying postures. He also painted himself in a white suit among nude sailors exhibiting their muscular bodies. Such sort of painting was utterly shocking in the eyes of his contemporaries and is still considered as such as the Swedish authors of the exhibition catalogue seem been quite evasive about his homosexuality, which in fact was the main subject of his ouvre then.