Hans Gude was a major figure in nineteenth- century Norwegian landscape art, as a painter ans as a teacher. His aptitude was discovered early on, and after training at the Christiania School of Drawing he was admitted to the Düsseldorf Academy as a sixteen-year-old. His highland paintings won him great renown both at home and abroad. Later on he became more preoccupied with coastal landscapes and the hard life of the people living there.
This painting was preceded by a similar version from the year before and a watercolour. The mature landscape artist has here appropriated characteristics from his forerunners in Düsseldorf. From high above the timberline we see down toward a rocky highland landscape, where the impression of desolate, unspoilt nature remains despite the summertime farms and the people and animals by the mountain lake. The terrain rises again on the yonder side of the water, and a snow-splotched mountain range extends far inward, as the sun breaks through the cloud cover and illuminates parts of the summer landscape. The horizon partitions the picture plane into two parts of roughly similar size, while the mountain plateau’s horizontal contours add calm and stability. The colour scheme is green and grey against blue. The painting conveys a sense of the vastness and seclusion of the highlands: as the landscape spreads out from a high vantage point, the artist’s balanced arrangement of the mountainous terrain provides monumentality. The painting’s rhythm is further underscored by the varied use of light and shadow.
In his scrapbook, entitled Liber Veritatis, Gude included a photograph of the first version of this painting and gave it the title “Norsk Høifjeld” (Norwegian Mountains).
Text: Frode Haverkamp
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0