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 Frits Thaulow  (1847 - 1906)

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Lived/Active: Norway/France/Netherlands      Known for: landscape, townscape and river scene painting

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Biography from South Coast Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Frits Thaulow originally wanted to become a marine painter; he studied at the art academy in Copenhagen (1870–73) as well as with the Danish marine specialist C. F. Sorensen.  He then went to Paris, where he spent much of the period 1875–9.  His marine oil paintings and coastal paintings, some of which were accepted at the Paris Salon, were only moderately successful, but he acquired a fair knowledge of contemporary French Realist art and felt that Norwegian artists should learn from it.

In the autumn of 1879 Thaulow went to Skagen in Denmark, painting with a group of Scandinavians there and then on to Oslo.  He spent the years 1879-92 in Norway, a very important period when Realist painting based on French models was accepted in Norway.  His personal interpretation of the Norwegian landscape was widely felt to be new.  He painted the streets and public gardens of his native Oslo and specialized in rendering Scandinavia, A Stone Bridge Over A Stream In Winter (1886, Paris, Muse d’Orsay).

The winter scenes, garden pictures and townscapes he painted in the small town of Krageroe are particularly fine.  He also became an expert at oil painting slow-flowing rivers and complex reflections in water, particularly during his autumn and winter stay beside the Simoa River in 1883, when he produced such paintings as An Orchard On The Banks Of A River (1883, National Gallery, Oslo).  He also made a number of trips abroad, to Paris 1882-3, Scotland 1884, Venice 1885 and Germany 1885-6, where he painted works of great delicacy.  Some show a slight influence from Impressionism, but this was never an important element in his artwork. 

During the 1880s, he was prominent in establishing more progressive artists associations and exhibition societies and was regarded as the leading Norwegian artist of the period.

At the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, Frits (Fritz) Thaulow made personal contacts with leading French artists, and when the Salon du Champ de Mars was established in 1890, he became a highly regarded exhibitor there. 

He decided to move to France in 1892.  He painted about 50 pictures a year, most of them rather small oil paintings, and his output was handled by the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris.  A large number of these oil paintings were river scenes of great virtuosity, but he also rendered poetic nocturnes, harbor scenes, quaint bridges and even seascapes.  He avoided repeating himself by constantly traveling to various parts of France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway for his subject matter.

Thaulow was essentially a painter working within the framework of Realism, to which he made an original contribution.  During the 1890s, he used oil and pastel to create a more poetic and symbolic atmosphere in line with the prevailing artistic mood of the period and he could be compared in this respect with such painters as Whistler.

He was a friend of Claude Oscar Monet and an important link between Norwegian and French art.  The contents of his studio were auctioned in Paris in 1907. He was a master of portraying the interaction of light and water.  Many of his oil paintings are river and lake scenes and his paintings are becoming more and more appreciated and collected now than ever before.

Biography from Anderson Galleries, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The brother-in-law of Paul Gauguin and good friend of Claude Monet, Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow began his artistic studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, which at the time specialized in marine painting.  Thaulow had hoped to become a marine painter, but he soon realized the limitations of such a specialized field and concentrated instead on landscape painting.  He apprenticed with Norwegian landscape painter Hans-Fredrik Gude in Karlsruhe, Germany for two winters, before leaving for Paris in the early 1870s.

Paris, a cosmopolitan center and mecca for art students of all nationalities, boasted a sizable population of expatriate Norwegian artists, which Thaulow soon joined.  It was through these artists that Thaulow was exposed to plein-air painting, which subsequently became the operative influence on his work for the rest of his career.  His style followed that of the French realist painters, particularly exemplified by Jules Bastien-Lepage, more than it followed the Impressionists, although he shared the same concerns with color and light as his Impressionist contemporaries.  He began to exhibit frequently, contributing pictures to the Paris Salons from 1877 through 1880, and becoming a familiar figure in the Parisian art world. 

Upon his return to Norway in the 1880s, Thaulow was acclaimed as Oslo’s foremost painter, noted primarily for his scenes of historic Oslo and the surrounding countryside. Thaulow, though, was a relentless traveler, and, as his varied landscape paintings attest, traveled far afield from his native Scandinavia to Germany, Great Britain, the United States, France, and Italy.  Thaulow spent the summer of 1885 painting the environs of Venice, and exhibited to great acclaim five Venetian scenes at the Autumn Exhibition in Oslo later that year.  Venice proved enough of an attraction that Thaulow revisited the city in 1897 and again in 1899.  In addition to expanding his reputation as a painter, in the 1880s Thaulow also became active in Oslo’s art world.  He arranged the Autumn Exhibition in 1882, and chaired the Artists’ Club in 1883.  He helped to found the progressive Artists’ Union in 1885, and served as its president in 1887 and 1888.  During this time he advised his young cousin, Edvard Munch, and helped him weather the effects of an unreceptive public.

By the late 1880s, Thaulow strengthened his ties to France.  He was friends with Auguste Rodin, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, and Emi1e-Auguste Carolus-Duran.  He was also close friends with Claude Monet, and he encouraged the great French artist to travel with him to Norway to paint snow scenes in 1895, by which time Thaulow had become a permanent resident of France.  In 1898, Thaulow was recruited by Andrew Carnegie to serve on the jury of one of the international exhibitions of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  On his trip to America, Thaulow visited New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston, and painted a number of works of American scenery.

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