Southern Norway and its Smiling Coastline

Southern Norway and the painter of its smiling coastline

Amaldus Nielsen was the painter alternately called "kystens maler" and "Sorlandets Maler", meaning painter of the coast (of Norway), or "the southland's" painter.

In the place called Ny Hellesund or "New Hellesund" we are in a typical south coast environment. From early times it was known as an outer harbor, that is to say a harbor where fishermen and sailors were close to the open sea, in contrast to the larger cities and places inland. The access to the sea was shorter and for that reason it was important to find harbors that were sheltered from the violent forces of nature. The painting shown on this page illustrates the mood of the tranquil holiday version of harbors like Ny Hellesund. The original painting can be found in Norway's National Gallery in Oslo.

It was said that there was almost always summer in Amaldus Nielsen's paintings. That is not to say that he only appreciated summertime. In his paintings he saw it as his responsibility to show nature the way it appeared to him. He registered weather, light and air with the same precision as he reproduced the various types of landscape and their characteristics. Each summer he traveled to various parts of the country, mostly to the coastal areas of Southern Norway. During the winter he stayed indoors working in his studio on the sketches he had gathered during the summer. This will explain the preponderance of summer pictures in his large output created over many years.

He regarded all formal and academic training with skepticism and he did not believe that he as an artist had learned anything from others.


Morning in "Ny Hellesund"
The paintings had to emerge out of the artist's immediate contact with nature he claimed. He preferred to work on his own.

Like Adolph Tiedemand, Gustav Vigeland and Olaf Isaachsen he came from the little town of Mandal, and he was soon named "Sorlandets maler" or Southern Norway's painter. As a young man he arrived at his naturalistic view, an outlook he retained for the rest of his life. For more than two generations his pictures kept the recognizable characteristics in sensitivity to to changing light and atmosphere. No one before him, and few after him, have succeeded in recreating the mists over the fjord at sunrise the way he did.

Southern Norway

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