(Fredrikshald, Norway 1802 - 1842 Munich)
Tree with Twisted Growth, Granvin, Norway, 1839
Oil on paper, laid down on panel, 28.2 x 39 cm
Inscribed, dated and monogrammed lower center Graven 11 July 39 TF
Galerie Jean-Francois Heim, Paris, 2001;
Asbjørn Lunde (1927-2017), New York, from 2001, inv. 527.
Den ville natur. Sveitisk og norsk romantikk. Malerier fra Asbjorn Lundes samling, New York, Tromsø, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum and Bergen, Billedgalleri, 2007-8, p. 123, no. 41;
Forests, Rocks, Torrents: Norwegian and Swiss Landscapes from the Lunde Collection, London, National Gallery, 2011, no. 28;
In Front of Nature: The European Landscapes of Thomas Fearnley, Birmingham, The Barber Institute of Fine Art, University of Birmingham, 2012-13, p. 16, fig. 6;
Rocks & Rivers: Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Lunde Collection, Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, April 2015-January 2017;
Sublime North: Romantic Painters Discover Norway. Paintings from the Collection of Asbjørn Lunde, Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, September 2017-January 2018.
In 1838, Fearnley returned to Norway and settled in Oslo, where he married. He moved with his new wife Cecilie to Amsterdam in 1840.
In summer 1839 he visited western Norway with the painters Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910) and Christian Breslauer (1802-82). Their journey took them to Granvin, Valdres, Voss, Hardanger and Sogn, where they met up with Johan Christian Dahl. A number of sketches and drawings bearing the date July 1839 made by Fearnley on his visit to Granvin have survived. Granvin was known as Graven until 1898.
In the present plein-air study Fearnley’s interest focuses on a dead tree with twisted growth. Its roots are partially impacted, partially entwined around a massive boulder perched on a crag. The tree evidently survived for a time despite the unfavorable growing conditions. The lone, dead tree is a symbol that recurs frequently in Romantic art. Fearnley uses dramatically accentuated lighting effects and a close-up viewpoint to heighten the intensity of his image, pulling the viewer into instant engagement with the central motif which he sets against the pastel shades of a blurred, somewhat indeterminate background.