Cultured Wednesday: Peter Nicolai Arbo

Arbo, another Norwegian painter from the romantic period, mainly painted scenes from Norwegian history and Norse mythology.


Today we would like to talk a little about Peter Nicolai Arbo, a Norwegian painter who delighted in Nordic themes, primarily taken from Norwegian history and North-Germanic mythology.  The pretty lady falconer in the featured image is Ingeborg, one of the main characters in the Frithiof’s Saga, and isn’t she lovely?

Here is a self portrait of Peter Nicolai Arbo:

arbo self portrait
Peter Nicolai Arbo, Self Portrait (1874)

Arbo was a painter of the romantic period, but not a landscape painter, for a change.  He concentrated more on people and animals, including larger scenes like his version of the Wild Hunt, possibly his most well known painting:

aasgaardreien peter nicolai arbo
The Wild Hunt of Odin, a Norse version of “Wild Hunt” (1872)

Peter Nicolai Arbo  was born on June 18, 1831, in Gulskogen Manor in eastern Norway, where he also grew up.  Today, the manor is part of Drammens museum and many of Arbo’s paintings are exhibited in its beautiful rooms.

valkyrie by arbo
Valkyrie (1864 version)

Arbo’s artistic education took place in Copenhagen and Düsseldorf before returning to his home country.  He, like Asher Durand, is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting.  All through Arbo’s career, he was involved in the Norwegian art scene, and he was appointed two separate Norwegian Knight’s titles in his lifetime.  Peter Nicolai Arbo died on October 14, 1892 at the age of 61; at the time of his death, he was still the director of the Christiana Art Society, a post he had held for ten years.  Below one of Arbo’s historic paintings:

arbo haakon den gode
Håkon the Good (1860)

Here is another painting from Norse mythology, depicting a personified element of the cosmos, as is common in mythology: Dagr, the god “Day”, on a magnificent white horse.

dagr arbo
Dagr (1874)

My favorites of his painting are the featured Ingeborg (see again below for an uncropped version) and the following painting of Liden Gunvor Og Havmanden (Liden Gunvor and the Merman).  It’s a literary painting, but I am not sure which story it portrays.  It could be based on a medieval ballad like Agnete and the Merman.

Liden Gunvor and the Merman (1874 – 1880)

And here once again Ingeborg:

Ingeborg, Frithjofs elskede (1868)

2 comments on “Cultured Wednesday: Peter Nicolai Arbo”

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