North Cape

Balke, Peder, 1845

oil on canvas, 95x132cm, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum

Peder Balke (1804-1887) belongs to Romanticism’s landscape tradition and is often referred to as one of Norway’s foremost and most innovating artist. He is especially known for his visionary depictions of the desolate and barren, but nevertheless spectacular nature of North Norway. Be it in his small, sketch-like studies or large, elaborate compositions.

Balke began as a self-taught village painter, but eventually gained a professional education at the Royal College of Design in Christiania (Oslo) and at the academies in Stockholm and Dresden. It was his experience studying under J.C. Dahl in Dresden in particular that would become significant for him. But it was during an extensive trip around Norway begun in 1832 that Balke gained his most important inspiration. The journey went by boat along the coast from Trondheim northbound to Tromsø, Hammerfest, and the North Cape and continued as far east as Vardø and Vadsø.  The magnificent and characteristic North Norwegian landscape made an indelible impression on him. Balke made a number of drawings, sketches and studies during the trip that would eventually function as models for quite a few of his later paintings, as we can see in the painting The North Cape (1845) for example. Although Balke visited North Norway only once, his paintings of motifs from this region of the country have remained standing as the very symbol of its dramatic landscape.