Oluf Wold Torne was a Norwegian artist born into a wealthy timber trading family from Son who experienced financial difficulties shortly before his birth. His father died before Oluf was born, and he grew up in Hølen, where his stepfather ran a general store. Due to his stepfather's financial situation, Oluf had to start working early. An aunt in Copenhagen supported his drawing and painting skills, and from 1887 he received financial support from her. His early works were accurate reproductions of the subject, and were marked by the teaching he received at the School of Art. Portrait of Therese Thorne (1889, National Gallery, Oslo) was an early work that gave a psychological interpretation of the model. Wold Torne's artistic development and connection to the Danish art community got a big boost after he enrolled in Kristian Zahrtmann's free school, which was a radical and innovative approach to art education. There he met, among others, the Funen painters, the Danish symbolists and Joakim and Niels Skovgaard, Vilhelm Hammershøi and Jens F. Willumsen.
Oluf Wold Torne's art in the 1890s varied between atmospheric naturalism, neo-romanticism and symbolic syntheticism. Agna med riven (1892) shows a young peasant girl with a rake in her hand, sitting in a field while looking out over the fjord. The painting has nice coloristic shades and is reminiscent of Erik Werenskiold's pictures from the 80s. He found inspiration to try his hand at the symbolic synthetic direction by studying, among others, JF Willumsen, Ludvig Find, Mogens Ballin and GF Clement, who exhibited at the Free Exhibition in Copenhagen in 1891/92. He later had the opportunity to study in Paris, and it was during a stay in Vågå in 1894, together with a group of other artists, that Wold Torne developed as a symbolic painter. Jente fra Vågå, a seated young woman dressed in red and black against a finely tuned green background, became one of his most important works from this period. He also studied masters from the Young Renaissance in Italy in 1894-95, which influenced the design of later works, such as the portraits of Alfred Hauge (1897, Rasmus Meyers Samlinger), The Artist's Wife (1899, National Gallery) and Thorvald Erichsen (1898, National Gallery ). The artist also used the faceted, cutting brushwork of the Zahrtmann school in some of his works.
Wold Torne continued to paint easel pictures in parallel with his decorative works. In his last years he mainly painted still lifes and interiors with and without figures. Like Cézanne, he chose simple motifs that gained meaning through coloristic depth and vibration. He used small brushstrokes to fill the entire image and tied it together in larger areas of color, often with contours. Sometimes the pictures could seem overworked and heavy, but he managed to unite the decorative and the naturalistic increasingly better. Both Still life with parrot and Tulips, apples and wooden horse, which were both painted shortly before his death in 1919, show greater freedom in composition and use of colour.
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