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Eilif Peterssen

Summer night

Summer night

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About the original:

Peterssen's most significant contribution is Sommernatt, a lyrical rendition of Dæhlivannet in dim lighting. The water is clear and still. It reflects a pale new moon and some light evening red clouds. The artist has gone so close to the subject that the tree trunk in the foreground can almost be touched. On the left is an overturned birch trunk which helps to create perspective in the picture. The composition is balanced and the colors subdued.

The following year, the artist painted an almost identical version of the subject, but this time with a female nude, a nymph leaning against the tree trunk in the foreground. This he gave the title Nocturne. The motif points back to his studies at the academy in Munich, but may also be inspired by French painting.

The neo-romantic mood paintings stand in contrast to the bright, objectively recording open-air pictures that were otherwise so common at this time. Both Erik Werenskiold and Gerhard Munthe were representatives of that direction. Kitty Kielland's Summer Night motif is closely related to Peterssen's, but shows a larger section of Dæhlivannet.

Text: Marianne Yvenes

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

Date: 1886

Other titles: Summer Night (ENG)

Designation: Painting

Material and technique: Oil on canvas

Technique: Oil

Material: Canvas

Dimensions: 133 x 151 cm

Subject: Visual arts

Classification: 532 - Visual arts

Motif: Landscape

Acquisition: Purchased 1968

Inventory no.: NG.M.02745

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

Nature's mirror. Nordic landscape painting 1840-1910, 2007

Art audience. The National Museum in the Kunststallen, 2021

Edvard Munch. The sick child. The Story of a Masterpiece, 2009

Im Lichte des Nordens. Scandinavian Painting at the Turn of the Century, 1986 - 1987

Dreams of a summer night. Scandinavian painting at the turn of the century, 1986

Verso l'Arte Moderna: Da Puvis de Chavannes a Matisse e Picasso, 2002

Japanomania in the Nordic countries 1875 - 1918, 2016

Nature's mirror. Nordic landscape painting 1840-1910, 2006

Nature's mirror. Nordic landscape painting 1840-1910, 2006 - 2007

A Mirror of Nature. Nordic Landscape Painting 1840-1910, 2007

Nordic moods. Nordic painting at the turn of the century, 1987

Registration level: Single object

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

Photo: Høstland, Børre

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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.