Gerhard Munthe was a Norwegian artist who was known as a landscape painter, draftsman, decorative artist and art writer. He was a rare combination of intellectual and emotional qualities, and his great labor was reflected in his works. He was a representative of the style development in Norwegian painting from approx. 1870 to early 20th century, and his decorative art from the 1890s was influenced by European Art Nouveau and Symbolism.
Munthe grew up on the doctor's farm Alfheim in Elverum, where his father was a district doctor. He was one of 13 siblings and experienced a strong inner unity. Munthe developed an interest in drawing at a young age, and he was also fascinated by nature and folk life on the homesteads. He went to school in Christiania from 1863, and the holiday trips to Elverum and a trip to his uncle in Sogn in 1869 gave him practice in observing nature and the landscape, which laid the foundation for his later career as a naturalistic landscape painter.
At first, Munthe had intended to follow in his father's footsteps and become a doctor. He took the examen artium in 1868 and the "second exam" in 1869, but at this crucial moment his father intervened and suggested that he should try his "vocation as an artist". Munthe visited the landscape painter JF Eckersberg, who ran a painting school in Christiania. Eckersberg encouraged him to follow his passion, and Munthe continued as his pupil until 1874. After Eckersberg's death in 1870, Morten Müller and Knud Bergslien took over the school.
Munthe traveled to Düsseldorf in the autumn of 1874 to visit his distant relative Ludvig Munthe, who was recognized as a landscape painter. This stay inspired him to paint, and he painted a large painting called "Folk som ryrder Nyland" (1876). After a year at home, Munthe applied for the State's travel grant to travel abroad for further education. He wanted to go to Paris, but due to the high cost of renting studios and models, he went to Munich instead.
Munthe became a leading figure in the artistic milieu in Munich. He was chairman of the Nordic Association there in 1878–79, and he became friends with Erik Werenskiold, another distinct type of leader. He did not take part in any teaching at the Academy of Arts, but orientated himself in the museums. In Munich he painted over 70 oil paintings, almost all of which were composed on the basis of Norwegian studies. They are often dark-voiced and have an elongated format with a poetic undertone.
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