Hans Gude’s last student
Thorolf Holmboe (1866–1935) was a painter from Vefsn, Nordland. He grew up in Tromsø where he completed his GCE-level education before attending the military academy in Oslo. But then he dropped out and went to Berlin, where he became Hans Gude’s last student.
After completing his training he went to Paris, where he developed an interest in Japanese woodcarving, paintings by the English Pre-Raphaelites and the Gaugin-related Nabis artists. He also became interested in handicrafts and design there, something which was to comprise a significant part of his creative activities. He also made a number of sketches for book covers, silverware, porcelain, textiles, posters, postage stamps, etc.
But it is Holmboe as a painter that is of the greatest interest to us. He was a Neo-Romanticist in the 1890s, a fact borne witness to by his work “Nordland boat in front of factory chimneys” from 1897. An interesting work because it involves a contrast which is very rare in Neo-Romantic painting, that is to say the contrast between a beautiful evening mood and a factory with tall chimney stacks emanating smoke.
Holmboe also painted several works involving the midnight sun, such as “Cormorant in the midnight sun” (undated). He was, however, not the first to do so. Adelsteen Normann was Adelsteen Normann.
Holmboe, who was a member of Oslo’s artistic fraternity and a friend of Edvard Munch, painted pictures using a combination of the Düsseldorf theatrical perspective and the more recent realistic close-up style. “Graveyard in Lofoten” (c. 1900) is an example of this. In “Eider Duck” (1918) we can see a number of eider ducks flying low over the water with snow-clad mountains in the background. It is reminiscent of his watercolour of 1894 entitled “The lonely Bird over the open Sea,” which shows a cormorant flying across the sea on an unusually grey day. The picture is placed on a book page and framed by a stylized bird spreading its wings around it. Vilhelm Krag’s poem with the same title has been inscribed at the bottom.
Holmboe was, as we have seen, creative in a number of ways and slipped easily into most of the –isms of the day, a fact which has made it difficult to properly ascertain his distinctive qualities. This is probably one of the reasons why he seems to have been rather neglected in the history of art.
Painters of Lofoten
The gallery contains an ample collection of paintings by widely acknowledged artists like Otto Sinding, Gunnar Berg, Even Ulving, Adelsteen Normann, Einar Berger, Ole Juul, Thorolf Holmboe and several others.