Lot 11
  • 11

Nikolai Astrup

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Nikolai Astrup
  • Ålhustunet, Jølster
  • signed NIK ASTRUP lower left
  • oil on canvas
  • 63 by 93cm., 24¾ by 36½in.


Anders and Martha Nederbø, DeLamere, North Dakota (acquired from the artist in the early 1900s. Anders (1854-1923) was one of nine children, five of whom emigrated to America. He married Martha in Jølster in 1880, and on their arrival in the USA the following year the couple settled in Wisconsin before starting to farm in DeLamere, North Dakota the following year (fig. 1). Nederbøs had been (and still are) farming in Jølster since the end of the sixteenth century, and in 1895 Anders and Martha returned to Jølster to celebrate the family's three hundredth anniversary. They returned subsequently on more than one occasion to visit family and friends, and it was on their last trip home that they acquired the present painting); thence by descent to the present owner


Øystein Loge, Nikolai Astrup: Elskaren under trekrona, Oslo, 2005, p. 87, illustrated

Catalogue Note

'The landscape of Jølster; that smell and mouldy dampness of old heathendom and primitive religion, that earth rich in sagas; these often raw colours have more importance than as mere subjects for my pictures. And this in my opinion is what motifs should be to all painters, that they in other words should be closer bound to the earth...'
Nikolai Astrup

A recently re-discovered painting, Øystein Loge suggests that the present work dates from the beginning of the twentieth century, possibly when Astrup was studying in Christiania (Oslo), and is thus one of his earliest oil paintings of Ålhustunet, Jølster, where his father was the local pastor.  

Already the painting incorporates the two essential themes that would preoccupy Astrup throughout his life: the farming community and the forces of nature. Surrounded by green fields and irrigated by the waterfall that streams down the hill behind, the composition evokes the edenic goodness of the setting; the cluster of houses and farm buildings at Ålhustunet are embraced by Mother Earth.

Astrup's prelapsarian interests, however, belie his early training in Paris and that his mystical depiction of his homeland was firmly rooted in the primitivistic tendencies that lay at the heart of Modernism. Taught by Harriet Backer in Christiania, from 1901-02 Astrup subsequently attended the Académie Colarossi and the Académie Julian in Paris. There he came into contact with Gauguin, and younger artists Henri Rousseau and Maurice Denis. But 'in 1903 he turned his back on modern life and returned to Jølster for good, preferring a countryside where life was lived in the old Norwegian way, in close proximity with the earth and in battle against the powers of nature, a place where superstition still had a hold on the mind, where old customs ruled.' (Einar Lexow, 'Nikolai Astrup', Kunst og Kultur, 1928, XV, p. 193).