MUNTHE, Gerhard
(b. 1849, Skanshagen at Elverum, d. 1929, Baerum)

Daughters of the Northern Lights (Suitors)

Brush, watercolour and gouache over charcoal on paper, 770 x 940 mm
Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo

After 1892 Munthe produced some decorative watercolours in the tradition of European Art Nouveau, a series of 'fairy-tale moods' intended to appeal to the viewer's subconscious and depict subjects that could not be expressed through a naturalistic approach. The style was based to some extent on old Norwegian art, mainly peasant rugs from the 18th century, but Munthe was also influenced by the work of modern French painters such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul Gauguin. There are literary allusions to medieval Norwegian folk poetry and the work of the Belgian Symbolist poet and dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck. Perspective is discarded, and firm, curved outlines surround areas of strong and unmixed colours. The colours are used to evoke particular moods and were also chosen as seeming typically Norwegian.

His first series of watercolours, exhibited in 1893, included the Horse of Death, Afraid of the Dark and the Daughters of the Northern Lights and their Suitors (all National Gallery, Oslo). Some of these compositions were subsequently made into designs for tapestry.

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