Cultured Wednesday: Johan Christian Dahl

Johan Christian Claussen Dahl was a 19th century Norwegian artist, in fact, he is often described as “the father of Norwegian landscape painting”.  This friend of Caspar David Friedrich‘s is considered the first great romantic painter in Norway and the the founder of the “golden age” of Norwegian painting.  Since he lived and worked in Dresden, Germany, for many years, he is also considered part of German romanticism.

800px-johan_christian_dahl_-_megalith_grave_in_winter
Megalithic Tomb in Winter. 1824-25

Apart from being an outstanding artist, he was very active furthering and supporting art and culture in his home country, co-founding, for example, the Norwegian National Gallery and other major art institutions in Norway, and working for the preservation of Norwegian stave churches and the restoration of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim and Håkonshallen in Bergen.

1024px-johan_christian_dahl_-_shipwreck_on_the_coast_of_norway
Shipwreck on the Coast of Norway. 1832

Born on 24 February 1788 in Bergen, Norway, J.C. Dahl’s own country, its rugged sea coast and equally rugged mountains, forever proved to be most the inspiring of all landscapes for him, although he traveled far and wide and spent many years of his life outside of Norway.

johan_christian_claussen_dahl
Lyshornet near Bergen. 1836

He held that a landscape painting should depict a specific view as well as say something about the land’s nature and character.  One has to wonder how much a landscape forms the people who live in it, and how much of its greatness is reflected in the greatness of its history as much as in the life and work of its current inhabitants.  Makes one think, doesn’t it?  Did my youth spent in the woods, or by the seaside, or in the mountains, or on the plains, or in the city, shape who I am today, maybe even more so than the influences usually summed up as nature and nurture?

dahl.i.c.1820
Avaldsnes Church. 1820

This certainly seems to have been the way J.C. Dahl felt.  While living in Germany or travelling to Italy, he said he was missing the “real thing”, something he could find in his mountainous homeland only.  Consequently, he felt himself being a “more Nordic painter” with a “love for seacoasts, mountains, waterfalls, sailboats, and pictures of the sea in daylight and moonlight.”  Must have been in his blood.

J.C. Dahl died on 14 October 1857 in Dresden, Germany and was buried there three days later.  Dresden is also the city shown in the featured image; here the uncropped painting.

johan_christian_dahl_-_view_of_dresden_by_moonlight_-_google_art_project
View of Dresden by Moonlight. 1839
Advertisements

6 Replies to “Cultured Wednesday: Johan Christian Dahl”

    1. Haha… I went to school with a girl by that last name and was wondering about the family, too, and her connection with the famous Dahl’s. No humor in this Dahl’s art though, it seems, be it ever so morbid, but hidden wisdom might show in both.
      How’s your dear Lilly doing after her surgery?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! Her vet let me know she did well and I will be able to bring her home this afternoon. Then recovery…
        Lulu has had 24 hours of undivided attention!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. It very much reminded me of places in the far west of northern Germany where many such old graves stand overlooking just such a landscape, moors with rolling but rather low hills. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.