A young woman, dressed in white, reclines peacefully against a doorway, with her face turned away from the viewer. She seems lost in the view of the moonlit landscape ahead of her, where a lake lies entirely calm in the dusk; it is summer, and the night sky is blue and the trees are verdant. Above the woman hangs a Japanese lantern, whose high-hanging position against the sky makes it resemble an exotic moon. The lantern is reflected in the door’s shiny casing and pane: resplendent in golden yellow and orange, it creates a warm, atmospheric light in the gloaming.
The picture, drawn in pastel chalk, has a sensitive, lyrical style, and we sense a mood of enigmatic yearning. The dreamy atmosphere is augmented by the blurred contours of the trees and by the mysterious tree trunks that are so curiously slender and upright in the foreground. With this work, Oda Krohg helped introduce neo-romanticism to Norway in the late 1880s. In this movement, artists rejected realism’s more matter-of-fact, impassive depictions of reality in favour of symbolism and romantic themes, such as the luminous summer nights of the north. With its cropping and subdued atmosphere, the picture also shows traces of being inspired by Japanese art, as was often the case in Western paintings at the time.
Along with her husband, the artist Christian Krohg, Oda Krohg was one of the leading lights of the countercultural movement known in the 1880s and 1890s as “the Kristiania bohemians”. She created many innovative and well-known works that have kept their prominent position in Norwegian art history.
Text: Nina Denney Ness
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0