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Eilif Peterssen

Christian II signs the death sentence on Torben Oxe

Christian II signs the death sentence on Torben Oxe

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About the original:

The scene shows the psychologically dramatic moment when the king, clearly in doubt, considers whether or not to carry out the sentence. Next to him is the advisor Didrik Slagheck, who hands him the quill for him to sign the document. On the opposite side stands Queen Isabella, looking at him with tearful eyes, clearly with a desire to avert the action. Both lean towards the king – he in black, she in white, as symbols of the battle of good against evil.

The image space is shallow and filled with figures. In addition to the three main characters in the unfolding drama, a total of seven people are crowded together in the right half of the picture, with the red-clad cardinal as an eye-catcher and perspective-creating tool. Stylistically, the picture shows that Eilif Peterssen was at this time clearly influenced by the Munich school and studies of Venetian Renaissance painting. This becomes apparent in the wealth of detail, the materiality, the color scheme with an emphasis on warm tones, and in the contrasts between light and dark parts. Thorough preparations were made for the painting, with studies of historical source material and previous representations of the king.

Peterssen mastered several genres. In addition to history paintings, he painted both landscapes and genre scenes. He was also an outstanding portrait painter.

Text: Marianne Yvenes

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", The National Museum 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-084-2

Date: 1875–1876

Other titles: Christian II signing the Death Warrant of Torben Oxe (ENG)

Designation: Painting

Material and technique: Oil on canvas

Technique: Oil

Material: Canvas

Dimensions: 141.5 x 200.5 cm

Subject: Visual arts

Classification: 532 - Visual arts

Motif: Historical scene or person

Acquisition: Purchased with a contribution from the Norwegian Culture Fund 1977

Inventory no.: NG.M.03118

Part of exhibition: Art 3. Works from the collection 1814-1950, 2007 - 2011

The dance of life. The collection from antiquity to 1950, 2011 - 2019

Registration level: Single object

Owner and collection: The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Visual Art Collections

Photo: Høstland, Børre/Lathion, Jacques

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Eilif Petersen

Eilif Peterssen was a Norwegian painter who had a central position in Norwegian contemporary art. He was the first of his generation to be represented in the National Gallery. Peterssen was a pupil of Johan F. Eckersberg in 1869–1870 and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1871, Karlsruhe in 1871–1873 and Munich under Wilhelm Diez in 1873–1875. Peterssen received strong impressions of older art during his studies in Munich and Venice in 1875. He is known for his historical compositions such as "The Death of Corfitz Ulfeldt" (1873–1874), "Christian 2 signs Torben Oxe's death sentence" (1875–1876) and "Judas Ischariot" (1878), as well as several excellent portraits of famous people such as Hans Heyerdahl, Henrik Ibsen, Johan Svendsen, and Harriet Backer. In 1878 he left Munich and stayed in Italy in the period 1879–1883, where he quickly developed into a plein air painter. He painted works such as "Siesta in an osteria in Sora" (1880) and "Piazza Montanara" (1883). Peterssen also painted his most significant altarpiece, "The Adoration of the Shepherds", which hangs in Jakob Church in Oslo (1881). Later in his career, Peterssen cultivated the Nordic atmospheric landscape and painted, among other things, "Sommernatt" (1886) and "Nocturne" (1887) while he was at Fleskum in Bærum together with Norwegian painters. He also painted several portraits, including "Kalle Løchen" (1885), "Alexander Kielland" (1887), "Mor Utne" (1888), "Edvard Grieg" (1891) and "Arne Garborg" (1894). Peterssen was caught up in the atmospheric and style-seeking tendencies of neo-romanticism, but after 1890 his art showed a clear decline in quality. His last major works were the decorative series "Gujamar's song" (1904–1907) and "Himmelfarten" in Ullern church's apse (1908–1909). Peterssen also designed the Norwegian coat of arms in 1905.