Djupsjøen (Deep Lake)
Christian Skredsvig (1854-1924) belongs to what is called the Golden Age generation in the history of Norwegian art and is considered to be among Norway’s foremost landscape artists and portrayer of animals.
He grew up under extremely modest circumstances in Modum in Buskerud County and received very little schooling. He displayed a talent for drawing at an early age, however, and after a short period at Eckersbergs School of Painting in Christiania, he was accepted tuition-free at the Art Academy in Copenhagen, where he studied under the landscape painter Vilhelm Kyhn. In 1874, after spending four years in Copenhagen, Skredsvig continued to travel around Europe. He stayed in both Munich and Paris and became familiar with the contemporary art of the period. He made his debut at the Salon in Paris in 1880 with his realistically rendered, immense and magnificent painting Snow sledding by the Seine, and the following year he won the highly regarded Gold Medal for A farm in Venoix.
Like many of his colleagues, Skredsvig chose to come home to Norway around the middle of the 1880s. He settled down on a farm in Fleskum in Bærum. In the summer of 1886 he was visited by Eilif Peterssen, Kitty Kielland, Harriet Backer, Erik Werenskiold and Gerhard Munthe, and together they founded an art colony at the farm. It was during that summer at Fleskum that evocative landscape painting was introduced to Norwegian art, and the ground was laid for a new school in art history; neo-romanticism.
The painting Deep Lake from 1904 reveals how Skredsvig remained true to the artistic ideals from France and Fleskum, and to his classicist-romantic artistic approach. The palette in Deep Lake is muted and softly modulated. At the centre of the picture a man sits alone in a boat, lost in his own thoughts, while fishing in the quiet lake. Small ripples radiate outward from the boat on the water’s surface. Clouds float leisurely across the sky and the sun is about to set, but it is still light out. We can perceive the lonesome figure as a picture of the artist himself; he conquered the world with a Gold Medal from the Salon, but ended his career isolated in a provincial area of Norway without any new artistic stimulation.