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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Painter of the Running Stream

At Quimperle, 1901, Fritz Thaulow. 
Where I could plan around expected surgery, an unexpected hospitalization left me unprepared, and I haven’t had anything for you the last few days. Sorry about that.

I’d say you have to get up pretty early in the morning to find a painter I’m not familiar with. It figures, then, that a British friend—five hours ahead of us—would come up with one: Fritz Thaulow.

Alkejegeren, 1892, Fritz Thaulow. It was the ripple pattern from the oars in this painting that first caught my attention.
Johan Frederik “Fritz” Thaulow was a Norwegian impressionist who specialized in painting water. He was one of the earliest of the Skagen Painters, a group of artists who gathered in Skagen in the last decades of the 19th century. Skagen, in northernmost Denmark, was a summer holiday destination. Its scenery and quality of light attracted artists to paint using the plein air method of the French impressionists. Its fishing industry attracted them to paint social realism in the style of the Barbizon painters.

A Factory Building near an Icy River in Winter, pastel, 1902, Fritz Thaulow. 
In 1892, Thaulow moved to France, where he lived until his death in 1906. By that time, Thaulow was well-known in America. “He was the painter of the running stream, of the effects of light upon the snow, of the twilight that suggests more than it reveals and softens and etherealizes what it clothes,” F.E. Grant wrote in requiem.

On a French River, 1893, Fritz Thaulow. He was the painter of the running stream, indeed.
I understand the impulse to relocate to the center of the known art world, since I live on the periphery of the New York art scene. But I’ve also wondered why the art world is so centered on certain places—Paris and San Francisco and London and New York—that great painters from elsewhere end up as historical footnotes. Australia’s David Davies and the rest of the Heidelberg School, for example, are fundamentally unknown in the United States, and undervalued as well.


Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!

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