Frits Thaulow Biography
Thaulow was a Norwegian painter and engraver.
Originally wanting to become a marine painter Thaulow studied at the art academy in Copenhagen (1870–73) as well as with the Danish marine specialist C. F. Sørensen (1818–79). Thaulow spent two winters at Karlsruhe (1873–4, 1874–5) as the pupil of Hans Gude and then went to Paris, where he spent much of the period 1875–9. His marine 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. Frits Thaulou admired in particular Jules Bastien-Lepage and his Swedish contemporary Carl Skånberg
In the autumn of 1879 Thaulow went to Skagen in Denmark, painting with a group of Scandinavians there, and then on to Oslo. Thaulow spent the years 1879–92 in Norway—a very important period not only for him but also for Norwegian art, when Realist painting based on French models was accepted in Norway. His personal interpretation of the Norwegian landscape was widely felt to be new. Thaulow painted the streets and public gardens of his native Oslo in such paintings as the Castle Garden (1882; Oslo, N.G.) and specialized in rendering winter scenes with skiers (Winter Day in Norway, 1886; Paris, Mus. D’Orsay). The winter scene paintings, garden paintings and townscapes Thaulow painted in the small town of Krageroe (1881–2) are particularly fine. Frits Thaulow also became expert at painting slow-flowing rivers and complex reflections in water, particularly during his autumn and winter stay beside the Simoa River at Modum in 1883, when he produced such paintings as Winter at Simoa (1883; Oslo, N.G.). At this time Thaulow started working in pastel as well as oil. Thaulow also made a number of trips abroad, to Paris (1882–3), Scotland (1884), Venice (1885) and Hamburg (1885–6), where he painted paintings of great delicacy. Some show a slight influence from Impressionism, but this was never an important element in his art. During the 1880s Thaulow was prominent in establishing more progressive artists’ associations and exhibition societies in Norway and was regarded as the leading Norwegian artist of the period.
At the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris, Frits Thaulow made personal contacts with leading French artists, and when the Salon du Champ de Mars was established in 1890, Thaulow became a highly regarded exhibitor there. Thaulou decided to move to France in 1892, living at Camiers, Etaples and Montreuil as well as Paris (1892–4, 1898–1906) and Dieppe (1894–8). Thaulou painted about 50 oil paintings a year, most of them rather small, and his output was handled by the Galeries Georges Petit & Cie in Paris. A large number of these paintings were river scenes of great virtuosity, but Thaulow also rendered poetic nocturnes, townscapes, harbour scenes, quaint bridges and even marines. Thaulou avoided repeating himself by constantly travelling to various parts of France, to Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. A series of colour etchings (1903–5) reused some of his favourite subjects, but they are not very important in themselves.
Thaulow was essentially a painter working within the framework of Realism, to which he made an original contribution. During the 1890s Thaulow 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 Cazin and Whistler. Frits Thaulow was a friend of Monet and Rodin and an important link between Norwegian and French art. The contents of his studio were auctioned in Paris in 1907.