Thaulow, Fritz (1847-1906) by Scholes, Robert

Fritz Thaulow (1847 – 1906) From the English version of Vidar Poulson’s useful note on Thaulow at : Norwegian painter and engraver. Originally wanting to become a marine painter he studied at the art academy in Copenhagen (1870–73) as well as with the Danish marine specialist C. F. Sørensen (1818–79). He spent two winters at Karlsruhe (1873–4, 1874–5) as the pupil of Hans Gude and then went to Paris, where he spent much of the period 1875–9. His marines and coastal pictures, some of which were accepted at the Paris Salon, were only moderately successful, but he acquired a fair knowledge of contemporary French Realist art and felt that Norwegian artists should learn from it. He admired in particular Jules Bastien-Lepage and his Swedish contemporary Carl Skånberg In the autumn of 1879 Thaulow went to Skagen in Denmark, painting with a group of Scandinavians there, and then on to Oslo. He spent the years 1879–92 in Norway—a very important period not only for him but also for Norwegian art, when Realist painting based on French models was accepted in Norway. His personal interpretation of the Norwegian landscape was widely felt to be new. He painted the streets and public gardens of his native Oslo in such works as the Castle Garden (1882; Oslo, N.G.) and specialized in rendering winter scenes with skiers (Winter Day in Norway, 1886; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay). The winter scenes, garden pictures and townscapes he painted in the small town of Krageroe (1881–2) are particularly fine. He also became expert at painting slow-flowing rivers and complex reflections in water, particularly during his autumn and winter stay beside the Simoa River at Modum in 1883, when he produced such paintings as Winter at Simoa (1883; Oslo, N.G.). At this time Thaulow started working in pastel as well as oil. He also made a number of trips abroad, to Paris (1882–3), Scotland (1884), Venice (1885) and Hamburg (1885–6), where he painted works of great delicacy. Some show a slight influence from Impressionism, but this was never an important element in his art. During the 1880s he was prominent in establishing more progressive artists’ associations and exhibition societies in Norway and was regarded as the leading Norwegian artist of the period. At the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, Thaulow made personal contacts with leading French artists, and when the Salon du Champ de Mars was established in 1890, he became a highly regarded exhibitor there. He decided to move to France in 1892, living at Camiers, Etaples and Montreuil as well as Paris (1892–4, 1898–1906) and Dieppe (1894–8). He painted about 50 pictures a year, most of them rather small, and his output was handled by the Galeries Georges Petit & Cie in Paris. A large number of these pictures were river scenes of great virtuosity, but he also rendered poetic nocturnes, townscapes, harbour scenes, quaint bridges and even marines. He avoided repeating himself by constantly travelling to various parts of France, to Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. A series of colour etchings (1903–5) reused some of his favourite subjects, but they are not very important in themselves. Thaulow was essentially a painter working within the framework of Realism, to which he made an original contribution. During the 1890s he used oil and pastel to create a more poetic and symbolic atmosphere in line with the prevailing artistic mood of the period, and he could be compared in this respect with such painters as Cazin and Whistler. He was a friend of Monet and Rodin and an important link between Norwegian and French art. The contents of his studio were auctioned in Paris in 1907. A translation of a piece by Christian Krohg on Thaulow and Oscar Wilde appeared in , The New Age (NA 4.7:131)

Back to top

Back to Top