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Harriet Backer

Woman sewing by lamplight

Woman sewing by lamplight

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About the original: Date: (1915)

Other titles: View from my Balcony, Hansteensgate 2 (ENG)

Designation: Painting

Material and technique: oil on canvas

Technique: Oil

Material: Canvas

Dimensions: 51.3 x 60.4 cm

Subject: Visual arts

Classification: 532 - Visual arts

Motif type: City prospectus

Architectural

Motif - place: Oslo

Acquisition: Purchased 1952

Inventory no.: NG.M.02250

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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Harriet Backer

Harriet Backer was a Norwegian artist who lived from 1845 to 1932. When she began her studies in the 1870s, very few women were active as artists, but during her 50-year career this changed and women's rights became gradually recognized. Backer became an important role model and inspiration for a new generation of both female and male artists in Norway.

Backer's sister Agathe was a talented musician who wanted to be a pianist, and when she went abroad to study, Harriet went with her. This gave her the opportunity to visit art museums and get to know the masters of art history at a young age. Backer showed an early interest and talent for art, but it was only when she was 29 years old that she decided to go to Munich to study. After a few years there, she moved to Paris to continue her studies. Being accepted at the Salon in Paris was an important confirmation for Backer, and in 1880 she received an honorable mention for the painting Solitude.

In Munich, she painted in a style characterized by dark colors and many details, but after she came to Paris, she was influenced by impressionism and began to paint with brighter and fresher colors. Backer became best known for his interior paintings, which often showed women in peasant and bourgeois living rooms. She was also a renowned portrait painter and received several commissions during her career. In 1888 Backer established himself in his home country and from 1892 to 1910 ran a painting school in Kristiania (now Oslo). She became a popular teacher and was open to new things both in art and social development in general. Although she sympathized with the women's movement, she did not actively participate in political work. She once stated: "I think I serve the woman's cause best by concentrating as a man." As a recognized artist, she was nevertheless an important role model and a pioneer who paved the way for women's opportunities to choose art as a career path.