An Appreciation: Frits Thaulow
Frits Thaulow was a Norwegian artist in the second half of the 20th century. He developed a personal style that combined elements of Realism and Impressionism and was a leader in bringing avant garde art to Norway. He is particularly praised for his handling of light and reflections on water.
Johan Frederik Thaulow was born on October 20 , 1847 in Christiania, later re-named Oslo. His father was a prosperous chemist and in accordance with his wishes, Frits obtained a general education in the Norwegian schools. However, despite having obtained a doctorate, Frits wanted to become an artist and so enrolled in a two-year program at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen.
Like most other art schools in Europe at this time, the focus of the Academy of Art was on Neoclassical art. There, Frits studied under Carl Frederik Sørensen, a well-known Danish maritime artist.
Following his studies in Denmark, Frits went to Germay where he studied at the Baden School of Art in Karlsruhe. There he studied with Hans Frederik Gude, a popular Norwegian Romantic painter.
In 1874, Frits married Ingeborg Charlotte Gad, whoose sister Mette was married to Paul Gauguin. Frits and Charlotte had a daughter a year later.
After finishing his studies in Germany, Frits moved to Paris in 1875. The focus of his work at this point was maritime art. However, despite his rather conservative education, Frits was open to the more avant garde styles of art that were revolutionizing the French art scene. Frits liked the Realist paintings of Jules Bastien-Lepage but he was also interested in the work of the Impressionists, who had just had their first group exhibition the year before.
In 1879, Frits returned to Scandinavia Together with his friend the painter Christian Krohg, Frits spent the summer and autumn in Skagen in northern Denmark. The area provided numerous opportunities for landscapes and seascapes. While not adopting the techniques of the Impressionists, Frits began to incorporate their approach into his art thus creating his own version of Impressionism.
Returning to Norway in 1880, Frits was soon recognized as a leader among Norway's young artists. He challenged Christiania's conservative art establishment with ideas that he had learned in France. In addition, like the Impressionists in France, he helped to organize an exhibition in opposition to the establishment exhibitions where juries decided what work would be accepted for exhibition.
Frits remained in Norway for 12 years. During this period, he focused on landscapes and seascapes. In addition to painting scenes of his native Norway, Frits also traveled to Scotland, France and to Venice.
In 1886, Frits divorced his first wife. Later that year, he married Alexandra Lasson. Together, they would have three children.
Frits moved permanently to France in 1892. At first, he settled in Paris but did not find inspiration in the city's urban landscape. Therefore, he shifted to the French countryside, living in several smaller towns including Dieppe.
Active in French art scene, Frits became friends with artists including Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet. Monet and Thaulow and Monet would paint together in Normandy. Thaulow also persuaded Monet to visit Norway, which Monet did in 1895, staying with his stepson. Despite inclement weather, Monet produced some 30 paintings during this two-month visit.
Frits also continued to travel. He returned to Norway a number of times. In addition, he traveled through Northern Italy to Venice several times.
During his time in France, Frits produced about 50 paintings a year. He was exhibited widely in galleries such as Galeries Georges Petit and Cie in Paris as well as collective exhibitions in Munich, Berlin and Paris. He received the grand prize at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. In addition to being appointed a commander of the 2nd Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1905, he received the French Legion of Honor, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus from Italy and the Order of Nichan Iftikhar from Tunisia.
Frits died in the Netherlands in 1905 from complications stemming from diabettes.
Thaulow spent much of his life in France and so many of his works are scenes of France. Above: "Le Cure." Below: "A Chateau in Normandy".
Thaulow was often inspired by scenes in which a sweeping river flows toward the viewer. He is noted for his handling of light and reflections on the water. Above: "The Mill Stream". Below: "An Orchard By A River."
Thaulow visited Venice several times. Above: "The Rialto". Below: "An Area of Venice."
Artist appreciation - Frits Thaulow