Sunday, 14 October 2012

Johan Christian Clausen Dahl and A Mother and Child by the Sea

'A Mother and Child by the Sea' (1840) by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl;
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Sometimes I don't like the idea behind this blog very much, even though I came up with it myself. Because there are thousands of beautiful paintings out there and in choosing an artwork I am bound to a stupid date. So yesterday I had the choice between two wonderful painters and I could only pick one, today I struggled a lot because the choice was very meagre. Luckily I found Norwegian painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl, born on 24 February 1788 and died on 14 October 1857. He has painted mostly landscapes, is often referred to as 'the father of Norwegian landscape painting' and is considered the first great Romantic painter in Norway. On top of all that, his Wikipedia page mentions that he was one of the great European artists of all time. Judging by the length of his page, you can tell he was no minor artist. So forget about my complaint earlier. I'm liking the concept of my blog again because otherwise I would not have discovered this great European artist, very unknown to me until now. When you look at his paintings, you see that some of them (like The Old Oak Tree in Winter) are very similar to the romantic landscapes by Caspar David Friedrich. Also today's painting is very similar to Friedrich's Moonrise Over The Sea, even the colours. So I scanned the Wikipedia text quickly to find Friedrich's name and read that Dahl had travelled to Dresden where he was introduced to Friedrich and became his close friend. Today's painting of a mother and child by the sea was painted in 1840, the year that Friedrich died. I just went to the page of the museum where it is on display, and I wasn't wrong in thinking that this particular painting is very similar to Friedrich's work. It says that Dahl may have painted the landscape as a hommage to his friend and mentor by using elements from Friedrich's work.

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