Artist Stories

Harald Sohlberg, The Solitary Genius

Zuzanna Stańska 9 January 2017 min Read

Harald Sohlberg was a Norwegian painter whose works can be described as "Neo-romantic". He is particularly known for his depictions of the mountains of Rondane and the town of Røros. Perhaps his most widely recognized paintings, in several variations, is Winter's Night in Rondane, presently featured at the Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design in Oslo. Unfortunately, Sohlberg's work remains little known internationally, and many of his significant paintings are in Norwegian public collections. [caption id="attachment_3162" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Harald Sohlberg, Winter Night in the Mountains Harald Sohlberg, Winter Night in the Mountains, 1901, Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, Oslo[/caption] Sohlberg came from a large, middle class family with eight children. He did not finish school and instead became apprenticed to a decorative painter at age sixteen. He was very committed to the Romantic idea of the artist as solitary genius and tended to isolate himself for large periods of time, and devote himself entirely to his paintings. Like Munch, he was obsessively preoccupied with denying that the influence of other contemporary artists had been important to him. He dissociated himself from the discussion about where he belonged in the history of art, relegating the origins of his artistic awakening outside of art to his own psyche. [caption id="attachment_3163" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Harald Sohlberg, Summer Night, 1899, Nasjonalgalleriet Harald Sohlberg, Summer Night, 1899, Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design[/caption] In an obituary, Pola Gauguin wrote that Harald Sohlberg was alone and forgotten: "A name which was famous in its day." Now that Sohlberg was dead, Gauguin thought, "the coldness which he helped surround it with, will thaw". [caption id="attachment_3164" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Harald Sohlberg, Fisherman's Cottage, 1906, Art Institute of Chicago Harald Sohlberg, Fisherman's Cottage, 1906, Art Institute of Chicago[/caption] The function of line in his paintings was to express feelings. It could be lonely, down to earth, or melancholy. It could be willful and persevering as required. It should be developed according to the nature of the subject and the artist's dialogue with nature. What interested him was his own experience and interpretation, regardless of how naturalistic his pictures appeared to be. Ideally everything in the picture was controlled by his will. [caption id="attachment_3165" align="aligncenter" width="564"]Harald Sohlberg, Evening, Akershus, 1913 Harald Sohlberg, Spring evening by the Akershus Fortress, Oslo, c.1900[/caption] As an older man, Sohlberg longed for confirmation that the public saw the values he wished to impart: "it is probably true that for simple and naive reasons my works have aroused sympathy. But I maintain that they have by no means been properly understood for the pictorial and spiritual values on which I have been working consistently throughout the years." The quotation contains three words which are keys to an understanding of Sohlberg: "Pictorial," "spiritual," and "consistently." The pictorial is means for expressing the spiritual, and one was obliged to stick to the spiritual values one held true.

Find out more:

[easyazon_image align="none" height="160" identifier="1887149015" locale="US" src="https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/41yU38UZmL.SL160-1.jpg" tag="dailyartdaily-20" width="107"]   [easyazon_image align="none" height="134" identifier="B01J5YYG74" locale="US" src="https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/51Csg79QncL.SL160.jpg" tag="dailyartdaily-20" width="160"][easyazon_image align="none" height="134" identifier="B01J5YYG74" locale="US" src="https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/51Csg79QncL.SL160-1.jpg" tag="dailyartdaily-20" width="160"]

Recommended

julian stanczak Artist Stories

Julian Stanczak and His Abstract Life

You may think that experiences such as forced labor in Siberia, losing the nerves in his dominant arm, or ending up in a refugee camp would have...

Magda Michalska 3 December 2021

Artist Stories

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Life Is Beautiful

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born over 150 years ago in Albi, France. He wanted to be a doctor or a surgeon but due to illness became a painter. Art...

Petra Dragasevic 3 December 2021

Artist Stories

Joanna Hiffernan: Artist, Model and Whistler’s Muse

Joanna Hiffernan and James Abbott McNeill Whistler met in London in 1861. He fell in love with her striking red hair and outspoken character and the...

Louisa Mahoney 15 November 2021

Jacobus Vrel (act. ca. 1650-1670), A Woman at a Window Waving at a Child, Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection, Paris Artist Stories

A Dutch Mystery: Jacobus Vrel

Jacobus Vrel is a ghostly figure in art history because, up to this moment, there is almost no official data about him. No record of his existence...

Irina Diana Calu 11 November 2021