Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Fine Art Tuesday


Skog Storm
Ludvig Munthe born in Norway 1841, died 1896 in Germany. Associated with the Dusseldorf school of painting.

Winter Landscape with Hunter 1863. Derelict monastery in the background suggests it was somewhere between Brocken and Stuttgart with Thüringer Wald being the most likely location.

Sledging 1867. The spruce trees suggest this image was from the Black Forest or Prussia.
Many viewers find Munthe's paintings to be relentlessly heavy, gloomy and depressing. The lighting is subdued, the trees and buildings tortured by weather, the human figures shrunken and dominated by the landscape. Unlike most painters of the day, Munthe did not shy away from painting winter landscapes. In fact, he seemed to prefer them.
A large winter landscape with horses and cart 1863

If you look at Munthe's paintings for a while longer you get a sense of incredible endurance. Remember, Munthe was a contemporary of Frederich Nietzsche, both men born and dying within a few years of each other. Nietzsche coined the term "That which does not kill us makes us stronger"

The trees have been battered by wind, lightning and ice and yet they endure. Stags are a frequent feature of Munthe paintings and can be interpreted as annual rebirth (antlers), either Christian resurrection or pagan springtime.

Ice skating at sunset. The wooden shoes of the couple on the right side of the image suggest this was painted in the Low-lands.
Munthe's paintings are not "pretty" artwork but they have their appeal.


  1. Black Forest - you know you are American when driving your convertible through the Black Forest you wonder "Who hung a Cuckoo clock out here... ?"

  2. Mr. Munthe's artwork is probably similar to the mental image that Californians have of life in the upper midwest and why I can count the number of California license plates I've seen over the past few years on the fingers of one hand. Thank God.

  3. Originally, the Black Forest was a mixed forest of deciduous trees and firs. At the higher elevations spruce also grew. In the middle of the 19th century, the Black Forest was almost completely deforested by intensive forestry and was subsequently replanted, mostly with spruce monocultures.

    Per wiki

    It is unlikely the artist was depicting the black forest. It may have been what forests were in folklore or cultural memory vs reality at the time. There was not much for forests anywhere in Europe for the last few centuries.

  4. Looks like the background art in a Boris Karloff movie.--ken


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.