Room 218B

Norwegian Romantic landscape painting 1830–1870

Peder Balke, Rough Sea with a Steamer near the Coast of Norway, c. 1847/50

Peder Balke 1804-1887

Balke was a singular figure within Norwegian art and almost without peer in 19th century European painting. His painterly mode of expression, dominated by broad brushstrokes and dramatic devices, invites comparisons with the English painter J.M.W. Turner. He built on his training as a decorative painter to create a highly personal painterly style characterised by undulating lines and strong contrasts, with white, grey, black and brown as the dominant colours.

One of the crucial influences on his art was a journey, undertaken by ship, along the Norwegian skerries in 1832. Here Balke found many of the subjects that would go on to be key motifs in his paintings, and his sense of the dramatic in nature evolved. While staying in Copenhagen in 1830 he visited the Royal Picture Gallery (the present-day SMK), where he was particularly inspired by J.C. Dahl's painting Winter Landscape near Vordingborg (Room 217 E). Balke took a keen interest in social issues, and in 1856 he bought a farm outside Oslo, where he then settled and built social housing for impoverished families.

J.C. Dahl, A Shipwreck on the Coast of Norway, 1831-32

J.C. Dahl 1788-1857

Danish art was strongly influenced by Eckersberg’s soberness and lucidity. There was, however, a counter-movement that saw several artists working with a far more Romantic vein of landscapes, strongly inspired by the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl. He was educated in Copenhagen in 1811-18, and even though he subsequently settled in Dresden he maintained a close relationship with Danish art. During his time studying in Italy 1820-21 he began to paint studies out in the open air, a practice which had considerable impact on his own art – and on the younger generation of Scandinavian and German painters.

Dahl’s subjects range from careful studies of nature to atmospheric nocturnes and winter landscapes to dramatic scenes of ships lost at sea. He proved very influential on several young Danish painters and provided them with a link to the German landscape painters of the time, several of whom studied in Copenhagen around 1830.

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Updated: 26.apr.2018
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