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Hans Gude
Adolph Tidemand

Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord

Creation date:1848
Other titles:Brudeferd i Hardanger (NOR)
Object type:Maleri
Materials and techniques:Olje på lerret
Technique: Olje
Material: Lerret
Dimensions:93,5 x 130,1 x 2,9 cm
Indexing term:Bildende kunst
Motif:Folklore, Fjell, Fjord
Motif type:Landskap
Motif – - place:Hardanger, Norge
Acquisition:Kjøpt 1895
Object no.:NG.M.00467
Owner and collection:Nasjonalmuseet, The Fine Art Collections
Photo:Nasjonalmuseet / Høstland, Børre  Download
Part of exhibition:Kunst 3. Verk fra samlingen 1814-1950, 2007–2011
Livets dans. Samlingen fra antikken til 1950 (NOR), 2011
Metadata:DigitaltMuseum API

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This sun-drenched summer painting, featuring the Western Norwegian nature with its fjords and mountains, a stave church on a promontory, and a bridal procession distributed among several boats, is a typical expression of how the national romantics perceived Norwegian nature and folk life. Artists were instrumental in defining what was distinctly Norwegian after Norway had adopted a constitution of its own in 1814, following centuries of Danish rule. This painting, which so strongly expresses the aesthetic ideals of the nineteenth century, has been revered as an “icon” by generations of Norwegians. It has also been transferred to the stage both as a living tableau and as a ballet, and it has been accompanied by poetry and music.

Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord was spread far and wide throughout the country through prints, and its popularity also led Tidemand and Gude to paint several versions. Adolph Tidemand was the first Norwegian artist to relocate to Düsseldorf. He renounced his ambition of becoming a history painter in order to depict scenes from folk life. He gave a new sense of dignity to the peasantry, and the poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson supposedly remarked that it was Tidemand’s paintings that enabled him to write his popular peasant tales.

The landscape painter Hans Gude, Tidemand’s junior by a good ten years, manages here at the precocious age of twenty-three to depict Norwegian nature rather magnificently. Even though it does not depict a particular landscape, the composition was based on Gude’s precise observations of nature in various regions in Norway. Tidemand and Gude collaborated on several other paintings, all of which featured people in boats.

Text: Frode Haverkamp
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0

The collection of old masters and modern art at the National Museum is one of the largest collections in Scandinavia. It consists of 4,500 paintings and 900 sculptures from antiquity until approximately 1945 as well as 50,000 works on paper (20,000 drawings and 30,000 graphic works) from the middle ages until today. The collection has also a large range of historical plaster casts from antiquity up to the renaissance.

Its central part is the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian art from the late 18th century until the end of World War II. It contains many iconic works, like the first painted version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from 1893. Furthermore the collection deals not only with important chapters of the preceding art history but also with parallel developments in the northern countries and in Europe, so that Norwegian art can always be seen and experienced in context with other tendencies.

The only comprehensive Norwegian collection of antique sculptures contains mainly roman copies of Greek art from the archaic to the hellenistic period as well as a series of portraits of Roman emperors. A small but first class collection of Russian icons focused on the Novgorod School links antique forms to renaissance iconography. Here the collection has a first highlight in a large assortment of graphic works by Albrecht Dürer and a small group of works by Lukas Cranach the Elder and his workshop. Important here is The Golden Age, one of his main works.

Baroque art is represented not only by paintings, but also by a large number of drawings and graphic works, mainly by Dutch and Flemish artists. Many graphic works by Rembrandt van Rijn, a vedute by Jan van der Heyden, or still lives by Baltasar van der Ast and portraits by Anthon van Dyck give an exemplary survey of central genres of the 17th century. A painting by El Greco and a representative group of Italian baroque drawings complete this section.

While European art of the 18th century is only represented by a few examples, Norwegian and international art from the beginning of the 19th century is presented in large variety. This is no coincidence, since the implementation of the Norwegian constitution in 1814 marks the beginning of an independent Norwegian art history in modern times. Furthermore, the collection has constantly been enlarged ever since.

Many main works by the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl – represented by 147 paintings and 1500 works on paper – by Thomas Fearnley and Peder Balke, but also important works by Jens Juel, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Caspar David Friedrich, Gustave Carus, Eugène Delacroix and Gustave Courbet show the broad range of romantic tendencies during the first half of the 19th century. An impressive amount of Goya-prints has to be mentioned as well.

Another highlight within the collection is the large range of works from Norwegian national romanticism from the influential Norwegian artist colonies in Dresden, Düsseldorf, Karlsruhe or Munich from about 1840 up until 1870. Most important here is the iconic painting Bridal Procession on the Hardangerfjord by Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude, a painting many Norwegians can identify with even today.

The following general trend towards France is represented by a first class selection of French impressionists and neo-impressionists. Important works in this selection by Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin as well as works on paper by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec can be presented in a dialogue with their Norwegian contemporaries between realism, neo-impressionism and symbolism. Here the key works are by Christian Krohg, Harriet Backer and Erik Werenskiold as well as by leading Danish and Swedish artists. The National Museum has a large number of important Norwegian graphic works from 1870 until 1910, among them many illustrations of Norwegian fairy tales.

The works by Edvard Munch can not be seen independently from these predecessors and contemporaries. His 58 paintings and 175 works on paper can be regarded as the most important part of the collection of modern art. The early versions of the famous paintings The Scream, Madonna, The Sick Child, Dance of Life and Puberty are outstanding masterpieces, not only in Norwegian art but also in modern art as a whole. Parallel to Munch’s later work the collection offers a comprehensive survey of his Norwegian contemporaries in the early 20th century like Harald Sohlberg, Henrik Sørensen, Ludvig Karsten and the sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Munch’s influence on German expressionism can be demonstrated by means of important oil paintings and graphic works by for example Ernst Ludwig Kirchner or Emil Nolde.

A second, comprehensive chapter with paintings by – among others – Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso, offers a background for the development of Norwegian art after 1914. Many main works by the so called Matisse pupils, by Norwegian cubists as well as by politically motivated artists offer a broad survey of Norwegian art history between the two World Wars. The phenomenon of public art during this time is for example represented by the artists of the so called Fresco-period.

The smooth transition from modern to contemporary art is marked by central works originating in different tendencies of modernism in Norwegian art during the 1930s and 1940s. Most important among those are mixed media works by Sigurd Winge and Olav Strømme, Gert Jynge’s expressive figurative paintings and the politically committed art of Arne Ekeland, not to mention the nearly complete graphic works of Rolf Nesch.

A collection is a growing organism gaining its quality and character mainly by means of individual points of focus. The Collection of Old Masters and Modern Art at the National Museum, which is constantly being enlarged, has its focus on landscapes and the close relation of man and nature from romanticism via realism up to expressive abstractionism. Like no other collection the works of old and modern art represent Norwegian art and its dialogue with international developments that influenced the expression of Norwegian artists.

Nils Ohlsen
Director of Old Masters and Modern Art

Text: Nils Ohlsen
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0

Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945
Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945