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  • Nikolai Astrup
    Aug 30, 1880 - Jan 21, 1928
  • Alhustunet, Jolster - Nikolai Astrup was a Norwegian painter and printmaker known for his vivid and enchanting depictions of rural life in Norway, particularly in the region of Jølster, where he lived most of his life. Astrup’s work is often associated with the Symbolist and Neo-Romantic movements, and he is celebrated for his ability to capture the magic and mysticism of the Norwegian landscape.
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Alhustunet, Jolster
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  • Alhustunet, Jolster

  • Nikolai Astrup
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  • Oil on canvas
    63 x 93 cm (24 3/4 x 36 1/2 in.)

    'The landscape of Jolster; 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, Oystein 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 Alhustunet, Jolster, 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 Alhustunet 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 Jolster 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.'

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Other paintings by Nikolai Astrup:

Act (Akt) 2
Act (Akt) 2
Alhus Rectory and Church
Alhus Rectory and Church
Apple Tree at Bjorset in Jolster
Apple Tree at Bjorset in Jolster
Apple Tree in Bloom (Epletre i blomst)
Apple Tree in Bloom (Epletre i blomst)
Nikolai AstrupNorwegian modernist painter Nikolai Astrup was born in Kalvåg. In 1899, Astrup left for Kristiania (now Oslo) where he matriculated as student at the Royal Academy of Design. Astrup quickly left to join Harriet Backer’s painting school where he studied until 1901. Astrup lived in Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian. He was a student of Christian Krohg at Académie Colarossi from 1901-02. Astrup later traveled to Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Hamburg. By 1902, he had returned to and settled in Jøster. In 1911, Astrup studied under Lovis Corinth in Berlin at Arthur Lewin-Funcke’s school of Painting.

Astrup preferred clear, strong colors and usually made landscape art depicting his surroundings in Jølster. His paintings describe an intimate interaction between nature and the developed environment, characterized by bold lines and distinctive rich color. Astrup is regarded as a neo-romantic painter, but he also worked with woodcuts.