LONDON - On Friday morning a group of clients, together with the 19th Century European Paintings department and Sotheby’s Norway representative Ingeborg Astrup – herself a distant relation to the artist – were treated to a private tour of the Nikolai Astrup exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery with the curator MaryAnne Stevens.
NIKOLAI ASTRUP, FOXGLOVES, 1927. THE SAVINGS BANK FOUNDATION DNB / THE ASTRUP COLLECTION / KODE ART MUSEUMS OF BERGEN. PHOTO © ANDERS BERGERSEN.
One of Norway’s leading artists and a contemporary of Edvard Munch, Nikolai Astrup was strongly influenced by his artistic studies in turn-of-the-century Paris and subsequent travels to London (1908) and Berlin (1911). Partly inspired by the palpable sense of place in John Constable’s depictions of his own childhood home in Suffolk, Astrup’s subject was his native region of Jølster in western Norway, where he consistently returned after each of his forays to the urban centres. In this enchanting, rugged world of cascading waterfalls, yellow marsh marigolds, and the close air of midsummer evenings, pollarded willow trees sometimes become trolls, and the distinctive local grain poles take on an almost human presence. Beginning with a panoramic selection of views of the village of Ålhus and the white-painted parsonage where Astrup grew up, the exhibition moves through the artist’s innovative woodcuts and photographs, culminating in his vividly expressive depictions of Midsummer Eve celebrations.
NIKOLAI ASTRUP, THE PARSONAGE. THE SAVINGS BANK FOUNDATION DNB / THE ASTRUP COLLECTION / KODE ART MUSEUMS OF BERGEN. PHOTO © DAG FOSSE/KODE.
One of the exhibition highlights is Marsh Marigolds and Double Rainbow, sold at Sotheby’s for an auction record in 2001 and now in a private collection. As with many of the most interesting artists sold in our 19th Century European Paintings auctions, Astrup is a leading artist in Norway but he remains obscure outside his home country. With over a hundred loans from private and institutional collections, Dulwich is the first stop of this touring retrospective – the first ever to take place outside of Norway – which should finally help give Astrup the international exposure he deserves.
NIKOLAI ASTRUP, MIDSUMMER (BEFORE 1915). THE SAVINGS BANK FOUNDATION DNB / THE ASTRUP COLLECTION / KODE ART MUSEUMS OF BERGEN.