(b. 1857, Smedjebacken, 1913, Christiania)


Norwegian painter. He was born into an enlightened but conservative family, his father being an engineer, occasional architect and writer of Nordic saga poetry, and he spent his childhood and youth in the rapidly expanding town of Drammen, 40 km from the capital Christiania (now Oslo). In 1873 he was admitted to the Kongelige Tegneskole in Christiania, where he studied under Peder C. Thurmann, a landscape artist trained in Düsseldorf. For more advanced training, Heyerdahl was obliged to go abroad, and in 1874 he enrolled at the Munich Akademie. He was encouraged by Professor Ludwig von Löfftz (1845-1910) to give up landscape in favour of history painting and portraits (e.g. the artists Christian Skredsvig, 1876, and Eilif Peterssen, 1877; both Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo).

In 1877, under the guidance of Professor Wilhelm Lindenschmit (1829-1895), Heyerdahl finished his most inventive and brilliant composition, the Expulsion from the Garden (Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo). Using over life-size figures, set in a barren tempestuous landscape, Heyerdahl skillfully contrasted the youthful rage of Adam with the resigned despair of Eve. This sombre work won him a third prize medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878. In 1880 he visited Florence where he met Böcklin.

Heyerdahl's light and imaginative mythological scenes became extremely popular with art collectors. He showed paintings at exhibitions organised by the Société anonyme des peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs at Georges Petit's.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.