Thomas Fearnley was a Norwegian visual artist and painter born in Halden in 1802 and died in Munich, Germany in 1842. Although he only lived for 39 years, he left a significant mark on the history of art. In his large paintings, such as "Labrofossen" and "Grindelwald glacier", he took us closer to nature as he experienced it.
Fearnley was born in Halden, but moved to Christiania (Oslo) as a five-year-old to live with his aunt and uncle. He became a student at Krigsskolen, which was one of the few places in Norway that offered drawing lessons. However, he interrupted his military training due to concentration difficulties. At the age of seventeen, he began taking evening classes at the newly founded Art School, while working in his uncle's shop during the day.
At the Drawing School's first exhibition in 1820, two of Fearnley's pictures were exhibited. Norway's magnificent nature was "discovered", and the young Thomas Fearnley was in the middle of the sensation. After a few years of study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Fearnley moved to Stockholm where he received important commissions from the royal household. In the summer of 1824, he went on his first study trip in Norway to Telemark.
Fearnley had many colleagues, friends and supporters in an international art community. During his short life he was constantly on the move. He has therefore been called "the European" in Norwegian art. Together with a couple of artist friends, he set out on foot from Munich and across the Alps to Italy in 1832. It was a cold and wet trip, and one of his traveling companions, the Danish painter Wilhelm Bendz, died of pneumonia shortly after arriving in Italy.
Fearnley stayed in Italy for over two years, and in his drawings and oil studies we can see how he became a master of rendering light and shadow. On the return trip he found what was to become one of his main motifs: the Upper Grindelwald Glacier in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. Thomas Fearnley is referred to as a person with good humor and a big heart. He died in January 1842 of typhoid fever, leaving a young widow and a son barely 9 months old.
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