Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Sigurd
1909-08-29

Transcription:

Tor Martin Leknes

Translation:

Francesca Nichols

Page

  • 1,
  • 2,
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10
Transcription
Translation

Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Sigurd
1909-08-29
Brevs.531-66403, Nasjonalbiblioteket

10 Pages

Transcription: Tor Martin Leknes

Translation: Francesca Nichols

Transcription

Kjære Höst!

Det er jo aldeles uforskammet af mig,

at jeg hidtil ikke har besvaret Deres venlige

brev, for hvilket jeg sender Dem min hjerte-

ligste tak. Aarsagen til at jeg ikke tidli-

gere har skrevet til Dem er, at jeg i de sidste

4 ùger ikke har sovet nogen nat paa grùnd

af heftige kvælningsanfald, der kommer ved

dagslysets aftagen og varer til sol opgang.

Disse kvælningsanfald (en slags astma), der er

en fölge af ödelagte lùnger – aflöses om dagene

af en slags sövn med sterk feber og plagsomme

drömme – jeg foretrækker derfor mest mùligt

at holde mig vaagen tiltrods for at feberen

ofte forværres derved; – i de 3-4 sidste dage

har pùlsen stadig holdt sig over 100, ofte op

til 120. Da jeg idag er lidt bedre, vil jeg nytte

öieblikket til gjöre Dem en ùndskyldning for

min ùhöflighed – jeg bùrde jo kùnnet klaret

at skrive et brev – men jeg kvide vilde nödig

fortælle Dem, at jeg omtrent intet har malt

i denne tid – jeg har omtrent intet andet

ùdrettet end at gaa en tùr hver dag, og selv

dette har jeg ofte maatte gjöre mindst

mùligt af, da temperaturen og feberen {…} stùndom

ögedes derved. Det tager haardt paa nerverne, 

hùmöret og apetiten. Medens jeg i sommer

aad som en slagter og lagde paa mig kilo for

kilo, – saa minker det nù baade paa apetit

og kilo, thi maven, som hidtil har holdt

mig oppe, har i de senere aar af og til slaaet

sig vrang og er nù rent ùmùlig. Hvad den engang

i tiden kunde taale var fast utroligt – jeg blev 

engang trakteret med eddikesùre æplekart, (som

NB. var l voksede her i fjeldbygden) + tyve aar

gammelt flesk, der for nogle aar siden ikke

var nogen skjeldenhed her i bygden, hvor man

hos de mest velhavende endog kùnde finde

50-60 aar gammelt kjöd og flesk, som de ofte

havde arvet efter sine bedsteforældre – som

sagt de to retter bekom min mave særdeles

vel, men den blev vistnok ödelagt ùnder

"sùlteperioden", de 2 aar jeg gik paa maler-

skolen i Christiania. 

Men hvorfor skal jeg plage Dem med mine

ònder – det er mine billeder De vil höre

om og ikke om daarlig mave eller do hùnger.

Jeg har arbeidet med nok et billede af det

samme motiv som Deres – et billede hvori

jeg troede at skùlde kùnne faa med det bedste

i hver af de 3 ùdgaver, som De har seet – og 

da Deres frùe likte bedst det förste billede, har jeg

skrevet til Robert Wik og faaet hans til-

ladelse til at overlade Dem dette billede; –

og da De likte bedst nr. 2 (det i den doùce

tone med den rödlige mùld) har jeg forsögt at

faa dette til at blive et færdigt billede, noget

som jeg dog er meget forsigtig med, da det hörer

til de hùrtigt malte stemninger, som det er

farligt at röre ved. Nù kan de altsaa faa 4

billeder at vælge imellem – ligesom det

selvfölgelig ogsaa skal staa Dem frit for ikke

at vælge nogen af dem. For at De ikke skal

föle Dem forbunden til at tage nogen af billederne,

skal jeg straks sige Dem at malerne Robert Wik og

W. Frost gjerne tager 2 af billederne i byttehandel

Angaaende den ting, at De vil sælge billeder

for mig saa vil jeg bede Dem om, at De

ikke maa tage bort nogen tid for min skyld;

for öieblikket har jeg saa lidet virkeligt godt ogsaa.

Der piner mig imidlertid, at jeg skylder skibsmæg-

ler Halvorsen et billede til 100 kr., og hvis jeg fik

lov at sende Dem nogle billeder, som han (efter

önske) kùnde vælge imellem, vil jeg være

Dem meget taknemlig – jeg kjender nemlig ikke

Hr. Halvorsens adresse; samtidig vilde jeg sende

saa mange billeder, at De kùnde vælge Dem et til en

liden erindring fra mig til tak for, hvad De har

gjort for mig. Blir jeg saapas frisk, at jeg orker

det, reiser jeg paa grùbearbeide i höst, jeg vil

begynde at tugte den elendige kroppen min og være

ùvorren med den, jeg har forsögt den længe med det gode

nù faar jeg til med det onde. Hils Deres Frùe hjærteligst fra

Deres altid hengivne Astrup

II 29/8 09

Brevet blev nok liggende over et par

dage – jeg var syk i gaar morges – men tog

mig sammen og reiste en tùr ùd paa

vandet, fik et frygtelig regveir og 

og modvind, da jeg var en halv mil fra

præstegaarden – blev vaskende gjennemvaad

saa feberen helt forlod mig; kvælningsan-

faldene var sterke i nat, men idag var jeg

fremdeles fri feberen – jeg tror næsten de

3-4 timers stræv med at ro hjem

og den sterke afkjöling har friet mig

for feberen – men saa blir det vel værre

med lungerne og kvælningsanfaldene.

Da jeg kom hjem sad jeg ude flere timer

og nöd kùlden og lod mig rigtig gjennem-

blaase af vinden, en slig gjennemisning

er den störste fysiske nydelse for en der

har et bittert sind. Jeg har ofte brugt

den medicin – den er god for sjælen, men

ikke for kroppen. Min kone sagde at jeg

var sindsvag, men jeg har bare været altfor

ræd for denne kroppen för, tror jeg. 

Jeg glemte nok sidst at takke Dem

ordentlig for de 60 kr. som De vilde

skùlde være et tilskùd til betalingen

for det förste billede, de kjöbte af mig,

men det vilde jeg ikke paa nogen 

maade höre noget om, derfor maa

jeg nù takke baade Dem og Deres frùe

paa den maade jeg bedst kan – ved

at lade Dere vælge et af de billeder,

jeg sender til at lade Hr. Halvorsen

vælge imellem. Jeg beder Dere om at

være saa venlige at gjöre det.

Fra advokat Knudsen har jeg endnù

intet hört. 

Jeg har heller ikke faaet noget svar

fra departementet, ifjor værdigede man

mig dog et orakelsvar men da jeg nù

spurgte om nogen havde gjenoptaget

den lögnagtige historie fra ifjor og

forebragt denne for stipendiekomiteen

siden jeg stipendiet blev givet 2 andre

tiltrods for at jeg stod indstillet som No 2;

nù svarer man mig ikke – og det blir

naturligvis da ùmùligt for mig at faa

greie paa, hvem der er opfinderen af

historien. Jeg har hört at Karsten som

ifjor fik mit stipendium og som iaar

fik det igjen skal have lavet historien,

og at han samtidig skal have truet alle

stipendiekomiteens medlemmer paa livet,

hvis man gav mig anden del af stipendiet,

og ikke gav ham den. Werenskiold skrev

til mig at han havde faaet besög af

sin gamle forfölger Karsten, som gjorde

sig saa fin og elskværdig til aveksling og bad

tilslut om en anbefaling til et stipendium; – "for

en gangs skyld lagde jeg alle personlige hen-

syn tilside og glemte alle hans tidligere ùar-

tigheder og pöbelagtigheder mod mig personlig

og gav ham en altfor god attest, dog paa

den utrykkelige betingelse, at han ikke skùl-

Vertikal tekst i høyre marg: Werenskiolds egne ord i anförsel

brùge den til fortrængelse af Astrup", (som

Werenskjold nok havde hört en ymt om,

at Karsten forsögte paa). Tiltrods herfor var

det nettop dertil han vilde have anbefalingen

og han brugte den og tilligemed lögnhistorien

for til at fortrænge mig fra min retmæssige

del gjenstaaende del af stipendiet. 

"Mit private liv" – man skulde vel ikke

kjende til Karstens liv – som Werenskiold

sagde: "Jeg ved ikke hvorledes Deres (mit) pri-

vate liv har været: men saa slet som Karstens

kan det dog aldrig have været, det maa dog alle

vide". Men Karsten har nok havt sine hjælpere

blandt de unge Kristianiamaler, som fratog

mig Thaùlowprisen tiltrods for at Thaùlow et

par dage för han döde henstillede til komiteen

for Thaùlowprisen (som forresten desværre bestod af de

unge Christianiamalerne) og bad dem om at give

mig Thaùlowprisen, da han netop havde seet mine

billeder paa "den norske udstilling" i Kjöbenhavn. De "ùnge"

delte Thaùlowprisen mellem sig. Min kone beder mig hilse

og takke for Deres venlige hilsen. Nikolai Berg som saa

indom mig i dag beder ogsaa hilse. Hils Deres frùe hjærtelig

fra Deres hengivne Astrup

Tekst opp ned på toppen av siden: Imorgen er jeg desværre 29 aar

III

P.S.

De skulde jo til Christiania i höst,

og De spùrgte mig om det var noget,

De kunde udrette for mig – jeg takker

Dem for Deres altfor store elskværdighed

mod mig – vil De gjöre mig den

tjeneste at ærgre de ùnge Christiania

malerne (om De skùlde træffe dem)

ved at fortælle dem at Mùnch

likte mine billeder. De unge plei-

ede altid at dispùtere om, hvem

Mùnch syntes var "lidt begavet"

eller ikke – og jeg fik altid höre 

fra den kant der var Mùnchs

ivrigste beùndrere, at mine ting

var det mest modsatte, som kùnde

tænkes, af god artistisk kùnst, og

at Mùnch vilde finde mine

ting at være de sletteste af verden

om han fik se dem, saa jeg maatte

endelig ikke vove mig til som de andre

at vise Munch nogen af mine

ting; thi da vilde jeg blive haanet

altfor slemt, "dine ting mangler

jo ethvert spor af det moderne

artistiske", sagde De. Jeg svarede

dem ialmindelighed med at misfor-

staaet "artisteri" blev til manèr og

det var det værste af alt.

Ja ùndskyld alt det vrövl

jeg har sendt Dem i dette brev,

haaber jeg skal sende et bedre

naar jeg blir friskere.

Deres Astrup.

Translation

Dear Höst!

It is utterly rude of me,

to not have replied until now to 

Your kind letter, for which I send You my most

cordial thanks. The reason I have not written

to You sooner is that during the last

4 weeks I have not slept one night due

to severe choking fits, which begin at the

waning of daylight and last until sunrise.

These choking fits (a form of asthma), which are

a consequence of damaged lungs – are replaced during the day

by a form of sleep with high fever and disturbing

dreams – I prefer therefore to keep awake

as much as possible despite the fact that it

often causes the fever to worsen; – in the past 3-4 days

my pulse has continuously remained over 100, often up

to 120. When I am a little better, I will take advantage of

the moment to apologize to You for

my ill manners – for I should have managed

to write a letter – but I was reluctant disliked

telling You, that I have hardly painted anything

in this time – I could hardly do 

anything more than go for a walk every day, and even

this I often had to keep at a 

minimum, as the temperature and the fever {…} sometimes

increased as a result. It is hard on ones nerves, 

humour and appetite. While I ate as well as a butcher

this summer and gained kilo upon

kilo, – now both appetite and kilos

are diminishing, for my stomach, which until now has kept

me going, has in recent years occasionally 

rebelled and is now totally impossible. What it once

upon a time could tolerate was hard to believe – I was 

once served an unripe apple sour as vinegar, (which

N.B. were I grown here in the mountains) + twenty year

old pork, which a few years ago was

not rare here in the village, where even in

the homes of the wealthiest one might find

50-60 year old meat and pork, which they had

often inherited from their grandparents – as  

mentioned those two dishes had a positive effect

on my stomach, but it was evidently damaged during

"the famine period", the 2 years that I went to art

school in Christiania [Oslo]. 

But why should I bother You with my

aches and pains – it is my pictures You wish to hear

about and not my ailing stomach or ditto hunger.

I have been working on another picture with the

same motif as Yours – a picture in which

I believed I might be able to include the best

of each of the 3 versions, that You have seen – and 

since Your wife liked the first picture best, I have

written to Robert Wik and gotten his per-

mission to entrust this picture to You; –

and since You liked no. 2 best (the one in a subdued

tone with the reddish soil) I have endeavoured to

make a finished picture of it, something 

that I am very cautious about however, as it belongs

among the rapidly painted atmospheres, which are 

risky to interfere with. So now you can have 4

pictures to choose among – as You are

likewise free to not

choose any of them. In order that You should not

feel obliged to take any of the pictures,

I will tell You at once that the painters Robert Wik and

W. Frost will gladly take 2 of the pictures as barter[.]

As for the matter, of Your offer to sell pictures

for me I beg of You, not

to waste any time for my sake;

for the moment I have very little that is really good.

It pains me however, that I owe ship-

broker Halvorsen a picture worth 100 kroner, and if I were

permitted to send You a few pictures, which he (as desired) could choose among, I would be

eternally grateful to You – for I do not know

Mr. Halvorsen’s address; at the same time I would send

enough pictures, that You might choose one of them as a

small token of my gratitude for what You have

done for me. If I get well enough, to have the 

strength to, I will leave in the fall to go mining, I shall

begin chastising my deplorable body and be 

reckless with it, I have tried for a long time to be gentle with it

now I will attempt a hard regimen. Greet Your wife most cordially from

Your ever devoted Astrup

II 29/8 09

The letter remained here for a few

days – I was ill yesterday morning – but pulled 

myself together to take a row out onto the

lake, encountered a terrible downpour 

and headwind, when I was 5 kilometres from

the vicarage – became soaking wet

so that the fever totally left me; the choking

fits were severe last night, but today I was

still free of the fever – I almost think the

3-4 hour struggle to row home

and the extreme cooling down has freed me

from the fever – but then the lungs and the

choking fits will probably worsen.

When I returned home I sat outdoors for several hours

relishing the cold and allowing myself to be 

utterly blown through by the wind, being frozen to the core like

this is the greatest physical pleasure for someone

with a bitter spirit. I have often employed

this medicine – it is good for the soul, but

not for the body. My wife said that I 

was insane, but I have rather been overly

anxious about this body in the past, I think. 

I have forgotten to thank You

properly for the 60 kroner that You intended

as a supplement to the payment

for the first picture, that you bought from me,

but I did not wish to hear anything 

about it, I therefore wish

to thank both You and Your wife

in the way that I best can – by 

letting You choose one of the pictures,

I am sending to let Mr. Halvorsen

choose among. I ask You to 

be so kind as to do that.

From solicitor Knudsen I have not

heard anything yet. 

Nor have I had any response

from the ministry, last year they honoured

me with an oracle’s response but when I now

inquired whether anyone had taken up again 

the libellous story of last year and

and presented it to the stipend committee

since I the stipend was granted to 2 others

despite the fact that I was nominated as No 2;

now I receive no answer – and it is 

therefore naturally impossible for me to

find out, who the inventor of the

story is. I have heard that Karsten who

was given my stipend last year and who this year

received it again[,] supposedly made up the story,

and that he at the same time supposedly threatened

to kill all the stipend committee members,

if I was awarded the second half of the stipend,

and not he. Werenskiold wrote

to me saying he had received a visit from

his old tormenter Karsten, who put on a show

of being nice and gracious for a change and asked

in the end for a recommendation for a stipend; – "for

once I laid all personal considera-

tions aside and forgot all of his previous insol-

ence and rudeness towards me personally

and gave him an unduly good recommendation, though under

the express condition, that he should not

Vertical text in the right margin: Werenskiold’s words in parentheses

use it to displace Astrup", (which

Werenskjold had surely heard told,

that Karsten had attempted to do). Despite this it

was precisely for that reason he wanted the recommendation

and he used it together with the libellous story

for in order to displace me from my rightful

part remaining part of the stipend. 

"My private life" – one should have liked

to know [something] about Karsten’s life – as Werenskiold

remarked: "I do not know how Your (my) pri-

vate life has been: but as terrible as Karsten’s

it could never have been, everyone must be

aware of that". But Karsten must have had helpers

among the young Kristiania painters, who deprived 

me of my Thaùlow prize despite the fact that Thaùlow a

few days before he died had called upon the committee

of the Thaùlow prize (who by the way unfortunately consisted of the 

young Christiania painters) asking them to give

me the Thaùlow prize, as he had just seen my 

pictures at "the Norwegian exhibition" in Copenhagen. The "young" [painters]

distributed the Thaùlow prize among themselves. My wife asks me to say hello

and thank You for Your kind greeting. Nikolai Berg who stopped

in to see me today also sends greetings. Greet Your wife cordially

from Your devoted Astrup

Upside down text at the top of the page: Tomorrow I am unfortunately 29 years old

III

P.S.

You were planning on travelling to Christiania [Oslo] in the fall,

and You asked me if there was anything,

You could do for me – I thank

You for Your utmost graciousness

towards me – would You do me the

favour of aggravating the young Christiania

painters (if You should meet them)

by telling them that Mùnch

liked my pictures. The young [artists] used

to always squabble about who

Mùnch might think was "somewhat gifted"

or not – and I was always told 

from those who were Mùnch’s

keenest admirers, that my things

were the very opposite of what one could

imagine, as being good artistry, and

that Mùnch would find my

things to be the poorest imaginable

if he saw them, so I must not

even dare to do as the others

and show Munch some of my

things; for then I would be ridiculed

terribly, "your things lack

the least trace of the modern artistic

temperament", They said. I generally

answered them [by saying] that misun-

derstood "artistry" resulted in mannerism and

that was worse than anything.

Well forgive all the gibberish

I have sent You in this letter,

[I] hope I shall send a better one

when I am well.

Your Astrup.