In February 2019, Dulwich Picture Gallery will present the first ever exhibition outside of Norway of Harald Sohlberg (1869–1935), one of the greatest masters of landscape painting in the history of Norwegian art. Timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Sohlberg’s birth, it will bring together over 90 works, including archive material, to reveal the importance of colour and symbolism in his art as well as his unwavering passion for the Nordic landscape.
Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway will be arranged chronologically, tracing the breadth of Sohlberg’s artistic career, from his earliest production as a twenty-year-old in 1889 through to the last year of his life, and will reveal influences such as Norwegian Naturalism and Neo-romanticism. It will showcase his most accomplished works including the atmospheric Fisherman’s Cottage (1906) on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, and arguably his most ambitious work, widely considered to be the ‘national painting of Norway’, Winter Night in the Mountains (1914), of which he created many studies and variations.
Like his peer, Edvard Munch, Sohlberg strongly denied the influence of other contemporary artists. Born in Kristiania (modern day Oslo) in 1869, he originally trained as a decorative painter, before studying for short periods under fellow Norwegian artists including Harriet Backer, Erik Werenskiold and Eilif Peteen. Sohlberg then went on to attend the art school of Kristian Zahrtmann in Copenhagen, where he encountered the work of Paul Gauguin and other Symbolist and Synthetist artists.
The exhibition will begin with two accomplished self-portraits, and will consider Sohlberg’s identity and early development; in particular, how he found his subject in the Norwegian landscape. It will highlight the significance and emergence of colour in his work as well as the influence of Symbolist art and thinking, particularly in his exploration of the popular, and mysterious, 19th-century theme of the mermaid. The exhibition will also introduce visitors to Sohlberg’s celebration of the rural landscapes of Norway, providing a snapshot of his time. Works such as Summer Night (1899) and Sun Gleam (1894), reveal one of Sohlberg’s characteristic interests in alluding to the human narrative in his paintings, despite the absence of any figures.
13 February – 2 June 2019
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd, London SE21 7AD