NORDSTRÖM, Karl Fredrik
(b. 1855, Stenkyrka, Västra Götalan, d. 1923, Drottningholm)

A Clearing in the Woods at Grèz

1882
Oil on canvas, 114 x 92 cm
Norrköpings Konstmuseum, Norrköping

Around 1870, growing numbers of Scandinavian (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish) artists took to visiting Paris, the modern metropolis with its many-sided art scene. They attended the school of Léon Bonnat, or the Académie Julian, or the Académie Colarossi. Some of them were tutored by Jean-Léon Gérôme. When summer arrived and tuition ceased at the private schools in Paris, the artists deserted the city. The coast of Brittany was especially popular for painting holidays. In the 1880s, there was a Swedish artists' colony at Grèz-sur-Loing, by the Fontainebleau woods.

In his first summer working at Grèz, Nordström was totally under the influence of the seventh Impressionist exhibition. A Clearing in the Woods at Grèz does not seem fully committed to Impressionist technique,though; the filigree of the slender tree trunks retains a linear clarity. The leafage and ground, on the other hand, are a shimmering fabric of green, blue and ochre brush strokes such as might satisfy even the most orthodox Impressionists. The female figure near the point where the path vanishes may seem to have been positioned by chance, but in fact she has her specific spatial and narrative part to play in the overall composition.