About the original:
After completing his education, Nikolai Astrup settled in his home village of Jølster in 1902 as a small farmer, painter and graphic artist. His art is firmly rooted in Jølster's landscape and folk life, to which he had a strong emotional relationship. He was closely connected to the local nature, but did not belong to the peasantry himself and could observe the way of life of the villagers with an outsider's eye. His lush depictions of the Westland nature and of local customs such as Jonsoknatten's bonfire have given him a popular position.
Astrup liked to repeat motifs that particularly fascinated him, a number of times, both as a painting and colored woodcuts. He produced the local St. Hans celebration, for example, in several painted versions and in both black-and-white and color woodcuts. The custom of lighting bonfires and gathering for games and dancing on Midsummer Night
was a living tradition with symbolic connotations. Astrup himself was concerned with people's harmony with nature, and the rituals of the St. Hans evening alluded to nature's magical powers. Flaming bonfires, dancing and gathering flowers seemed partly protective and partly enchanting.
In the National Museum's painting, the large bonfire at Sandalstrand in Jølster is the central element of the composition. A dark silhouette against the bright flames tells of a solitary figure; on the slope beyond the fire, the others are grouped in conversation and summer flirtation. The scene is surrounded by Jølster's mighty landscape with Kollen as a background motif. The combination of realistic and romantic features is characteristic of Astrup's art.
Text: Sidsel Helliesen
From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", The National Museum 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-084-2
Dating: 1912 and 1926
Other titles: Bonfire celebrating Midsummer Night (ENG)
Material and technique: Oil on paper glued to wood fiber board
Material: Fibreboard, Paper
Dimensions: H 89 cm x W 105 cm
Subject: Visual arts
Classification: 532 - Visual arts
Acquisition: Purchased 1984
Inventory no.: NG.M.03609
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
The magical north. Finnish and Norwegian art around 1900, 2015
Registration level: Single object
Owner and collection: The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Visual Art Collections
Photo: Børre Høstland/Lathion, Jacques