Monday, July 14, 2014

Lars Hertervig

Island Borgoya
oil on canvas
69.5 x 61.5 cm
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway

Lars Hertervig (1830-1902) was a Norwegian landscape painter, who was born into a poor Quaker farmers in Borgoy, in the municipality Tysvar in Norway on the west coast of Norway. His semi-fantastical work with motives from the coastal landscape in the traditional district of Ryfylke is regarded as one of the peaks of Norwegian painting.

He studied painting at the Arts Academy of Dusseldorf from 1852. In 1854, he experienced a temporary mental breakdown, and in 1856, he was admitted to Gaustad Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Oslo, at the age of 26 with symptoms which would now be suggestive of schizophrenia. Discharged after one and a half years he spent the rest of his life sheltered in private care in his home community. He produced his most famous art during this period, after his discharge from Gaustad Hospital. His last 30 years he struggled financially, and finally ended up at the poorhouse. He could not afford to paint with oil on canvas, and several works from this period are watercolors and gouache on paper not meant for painting, sometimes using bits of papers glued together with homemade rye flour paste. His breakthrough came at the Jubilee Exhibition in Oslo in 1914, twelve years after his death.