Erik Werenskiold - the fairytale artist

Erik Werenskiold - the fairytale artist

He was one of Norway's finest naturalists, his pictures breathe light and air. But we remember him equally for his fairytale drawings, as an illustrator of the sagas, writer and portrait painter.

When he was 23 years old he was engaged by the collector of fairytales, Peter Christian Asbjornsen, to illustrate some of his stories. He packed his bags and traveled to Gudbrandsdalen, to Heidal, Vaga and Lom.

There he met the old Norwegian farming culture, the half feudal society with prosperous farmers, toolmakers, sharecroppers and original country characters.

The experience had a decisive importance for Werenskiold, not only as fairytale illustrator, but for his whole artistic development.

The impressions encountered here made it possible for him to interpret the fairytale fable world with a living and realitybased appreciation of nature.

In Gudbrandsdal existed Askeladden, the Princess, the King, the Priest, the Deacon and finally the Troll.

With his drawings of the fairytales Werenskiold moved Norwegian illustrator art to a new and higher level, gave it its own character and created an ideal that has made an impact on the art of Norwegian books ever since.

He was driven by an almost fanatical perfectionism, would not tolerate errors and worked long and hard on every drawing.

In his drawings for Snorre's King Sagas, just as in the fairytales, he made the strokes in his drawings harmonize with the narration's approach and in the process created his own monumental style.

His paintings were inspired by the daily life in the countryside, this painting from Gvarv in Telemark is one of the best known in Norwegian art history.

It is a national ikon on a par with Tiedemand and Gude's "Brudeferden" and Harald Sohlbergs "Vinternatt i Fjellene".

Telemark's nature and scenery have in itself remained central in many artists' impression of the landscape in rural Norway.