Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Isabella
1925-03 (usikker)

Transcription:

Tor Martin Leknes

Translation:

Francesca Nichols

Page

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Transcription
Translation

Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Isabella
1925-03 (usikker)
Brevs.531-66488, Nasjonalbiblioteket

8 Pages

Transcription: Tor Martin Leknes

Translation: Francesca Nichols

Transcription

Kjære frù Höst!

De fik antagelig et telegram fra mig –

et telegram, som De antagelig syntes ikke

havde hverken "hoved eller hale", – men det 

var sendt i hasten for at ùndgaa misforstaael-

se – (naar man, som jeg, bor saa langt udenfor

folkeskikken recikerer man stadig sligt).

Saken hang slik sammen, at jeg siden hjem-

komsten fra udlandet ùnder en trykkende

gjæld har maattet stræve nær sagt baade

dag og nat for at klare at ùnderholde kone

og 7 barn – (samt en sengeliggende svigermor

og hendes svagelige sön). – Jeg satte mig

i 6000 kr. gjæld for reisens skyld, forùden

hvad jeg havde för (ialt ca 17 000); – men nok

om dette, – jeg mangle alt endog farver ved

hjemkomsten, og for at klare mig begyndte

jeg med alskens tegnearbeide (særlig i pen), sligt

som ikke trængtes farver til, – og da dette

heller ikke strak til i længden, – (min kone

laa en hel sommer i gitfeber, og leiehjælp maatte

2

til forùden doktor og mediciner), – ja saa vidste jeg til-

slut ingen anden udvei end at reise ind til Ber-

gen og söke arbeide – (jeg maatte ogsaa ind til

doktor, da jeg havde ödelagt mine öine med for-

meget tegnearbeide med pen). Jeg gik da i fjor

vinter og vaar og sled med alskens arbeide – og

medens jeg var der, var jeg hos en mand, som har

det eneste tryk som findes af det oprindelige "Rævebjælderne" –

han spùrgte mig da, om der ikke fandtes andre

tryk af dette træsnit, – jeg svarede da, at jeg havde

kùn trykt 2 tryk af dette træsnit, – og han vilde da

gjerne faa vide, hvem som havde det, – da han saa

kanske kùnde faa anledning engang at se det, –

jeg svarede, at det var hos frù lektor Höst i Kristiania

– jeg fortalte ham, at De tidligere havde solgt

mange træsnit for mig, men at jeg ikke troede

at Rævebjælderne var solgt, – da folk antagelig

fandt det for dyrt – (det krævede ca. 20 gange

törk mellem trykningerne og tok henimod 2

maaneders tid at faa færdigt) – der var ogsaa

ùmùligt at opdrive godt papir for tiden – ved

trykning i flere farver vil altid papiret ùdvide sig;

– paa en liden tryk har det ikke stort at sige, om

der blir en til 2 milim. forskyvning, men paa store

tryk kan dette blive lige til en halv cm. og

3

det gaar jo ikke an; – paa store træsnitplader vil

ogsaa træplaterne med tiden krympe eller udvide

sig, – saa at det idetheletaget var et saa vanske-

ligt tryk, at jeg neppe trykte det mere. Dette

og lign. havde jeg sagt til min ven, og da Dr.

Kreyberg, som interesserer sig meget for min

kùnst fik se dette træsnit, – vilde han absolut

have det (eller maken) og da min ven (Kramer

heder han) fortalte Kreyberg, at der i Kristiania

hos frù lektor Höst skulde findes maken, og

at det mùligens var til salgs, – vilde han have

mig til at skrive straks til Dem efter det, –

jeg svarede at det gjorde jeg ikke; – (thi

hvis jeg ikke fik tak i bedre papir eller klarte at

faa trykt et bedre tryk, saa var det meningen

min, at De skulde havt "Rævebjælderne" som Hr.

Maschmann kjöbte. Jeg svarede derfor, at den

omtalte tryk skùlde forblive i Kristiania

hos frù Höst, – fordi der var nogen, som

skulde se det, da de havde for-ret at kjöbe det,

ifald de likte det; – jeg tænkte da paa Masch-

mann – (efter det De havde nævnt om ham tidligere).

Der blev da ikke talt mere om dette, og jeg reiste

4

hjem til sommeren, – og det förste jeg fik vide, da

jeg kom hjem – var, at Engel ùnder mit fravær

havde faaet 500 Kr. fra Dem – fra Maschmann, –

straks efter fik Engel ogsaa et brev fra Dem,

hvori de bad hende om en qutering eller lign. 

Dette blev nok forsömt baade af Enge og mig

og jeg beder Dem tùsende gange om ùndskyldning

derfor – og tak for salget! – Jeg havde det

saa travelt og Engel fik gigtfeberen igjen

efter at hùn i mellemtiden havde faaet en liden

gut (som heder Dagfin) (opkaldt efter Engels bror,

som da nettop havde hængt sig. Siden fik Engel

"knùteros" – som hùn siden har havt, – hùn har

nù i flere maaneder maattet holde sengen.

De ùndskylder og forstaar min travelhed ùnder

disse omstændigheder – samtidig har jeg holdt

paa at bygge mig et stort atteliere, – jeg har 

jo alle mine dage arbeidet ùnder de slettest

mùlige lysforholde, – noget der har taget

sterkt baade paa syn – hùmör og energien. 

Attelieret har været paabegyndt og sluttet arbeidet

paa igjen mange gange af mangel paa mynt; –

jeg har laant her i bankerne, hvad laanes kan,

og man har töiet sig længere mod mig end mod

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nogen anden, siger de, og jeg tror det nok er sandt.

Vi har ofte havt det elendigt fattigt i denne

tid, og skùlde ikke vor datter Kari været saa

stor og flink for sin alder, havde vi ofte

staaet rent "opraad" med hjælp i hùset, thi

her er i denne bygd bleven værre og værre om

kvindfolkehjælpen, da alle jenter skal til byen –

eller Förde og Sogn. Kari skal nù "gaa for præsten",

enda hùn endnù ikke er 14 aar, – men hùn er fùldt

voksen og har faaet extra tilladelse til at gaa ud

af skolen, – da hùn har opfyldt "skolens pligt krav" her.

Arnold er en ùmùlig kar – han forsvinder för

nogen er oppe om morgenen og er vække hele

dagen – spiser omtrent aldrig noget, – forstaar ikke

hvad han lever af, – men han er ikke saa "veik"

heller, – er ude paa ski sent og tidlig og havde et 

par præmier för han var 11 aar – og hopper sine

15 meter. Baade Arnold og Kari er ofte vække

hele natten, naar der er fest eller dans i bygden

og kommer ofte ikke igjen för næste dag, – det bùrde

de jo ikke faa lov til, men de er saa "stride",

at de heller tager jùling 3-4 gange, end de vil

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ùndvære en slig fornöielse. – Man blir ogsaa træt

af at prygle paa ùngerne stadigt, – især naar

man er overnervös og maa ùdföre alskens skidt-

arbeide for at leve – (for öieblikket skal jeg ùdföre

en "fane" for et ùngdomslag for 200 kr.). – –

Man slider sig du i denne "kampen for tilværelsen"

– og hvad værre er, man faar ikke arbeide med

det man skulde, – med det man har paa hjær-

tet, – og det er en stadig pine – og "nag" og

"ond samvittighed".

Skyld og gjæld alle vegne – tærer ogsaa paa en, –

men det ser ùd, som om asthmaen ùnder sligt

basketak med tilværelsen ikke "faar komme til", –

jeg mærker den nok – saavel som "sting" og

andre onder, men som sagt, – alt sligt som

pinte og plagede mig för faar ikke slippe helt til

og faa tak paa mig, – fordi andre onder har

endnù bedre tak paa mig.

Ja naar jeg taler om skyld, saa hùsker jeg nok

ofte paa, at jeg vistnok skylder Dem ogsaa, – men

hvor meget kan jeg ikke rigtig komme efter, – da jeg

ikke er sikker paa, om det jeg engang fik ved

en ùdreise (til Danmark og Stokholm) var til laans,

eller noget jeg skulde have for træsnit, – jeg er en

                               7

daarlig kar til at holde regnskab.

Nù skal jeg forsöke flere papirer og se, om jeg ikke

skulde kùnne faa lavet et træsnit af "Rævebjelderne"

til Dem, – jeg har kasseret saa mange tryk og kastet

saa megen tid bort med dette træsnit, at jeg

næsten har faaet rent afsky for det, og naar jeg

endelig har faaet en god tryk til Dem skal platerne

paa hùggestabben.

Jeg sendte Dem prövetrykken (förste tryk) af sæteren

("gjeite-sæter ùnder Jostedalsbræen"), – jeg troede, at

De kanske vilde have det, – vi boede paa denne

gamle sæter en sommer hele familien, og havde 

en lykkelig tid, – derfor lavede jeg dette træsnit, –

jeg syntes det mindede mig om et gammelt "tun",

jeg saa som gùt; – og jeg tænkte mig at slig maa

en bondegaard her have seet ùd for 2-3 tusend

aar siden – det gamle flytter altid til sæters

her. – – Deres ven arkitikten finder imidler-

tid, at en tone er "gal" – i en af væggene, – og jeg har

nù trykt den paa forskjellige maader og skal da

sende Dem flere til ùdvalg, – da jeg gjerne vilde give

Dem den, De maatte like bedst (jeg forstaar hvilken

tone arkitekten fandt "gal" – tror jeg, – det er lang-

siden paa andet hùs fra venstre; – vi ser bare lidt

af den) – og jeg er opmærksom paa, at mine tre plater

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i "graat" ikke er tilstrækkeligt til at give alle

nùancer, – særlig da det er omtrent ùmùligt at be-

regne "höiden" eller "dybden" af de toner, som

fremkommer af ved at en tone overtrykkes af

en anden, – det kan variere, selv om man "laver"

op en masse farve af de forskjellige toner

og brùker samme "laving" til to træsnit-tryk.

Jeg har solgt et par tryk af sæteren ("hùsene" kal-

der De det vist) – jeg har taget 175,00 kr. for det i

kùnsthandelen og 150 kr. privat. – Jeg har forandret

tonen i den nævnte væg. – Deres tryk var et expriment

med "varme" og "kolde" graatoner, – jeg har trykt den

med helt "nöitral"-graa toner ogsaa, men jeg liker

ikke det saa godt; thi det var just særlig de kolde

graatoner, som gav stedet sin stemning, – det

öde ùnder bræen, hvor der næsten ikke fandtes noget

træ – andet end bùsker paa sætertaket; – og de

blekede graavaskede sætervægger – og det graa berg i bræen

var næsten like meget vasket af sne og bræ. –

Nei nù plager jeg Dem, – det var altsaa dette med Kreyberg, –

hvad han har skrevet til Dem om, – fik jeg idag vide af Kramer,

at han altsaa vilde kjöbe det "tryk" Rævebjælder, som altsaa

forlængst er solgt til Hr. Maschmann, – jeg har idag ogsaa

underrettet Kramer om dette. Haaber De ùndskylder dette og til-

giver mig taùsheden: og at De ikke fik qùitering straks. Med

bedste hilsen til Dem og Höst fra os alle

Deres Nikolai Astrùp

Translation

Dear Mrs. Höst!

You have presumably received a telegram from me –

a telegram, which You most likely could

make neither "head nor tail" of, – but it

was dispatched in haste in order to avoid a misunderstand- 

ing – (when one, like myself, lives so estranged

from social decorum one often runs that risk).

The thing is, upon my return

from abroad under a pressing

dept I have had to struggle virtually

day and night in order to manage supporting a wife

and 7 children – (together with a bedridden mother-in-law

and her infirm son). – I put myself

6000 kroner in debt for the sake of the journey, in addition

to what I had from before (a total of ca. 17 000); – but enough

of that, – I lacked everything even paints upon

my return, and in order to manage I began

doing all kinds of drawing (particularly in pen), such

as do not require paints, – and when this

did not suffice in the long run either, – (my wife

spent an entire summer in bed with rheumatic fever, and hired help was called

2

for in addition to a doctor and medications), – well in the end I 

had no other choice but to travel to Ber- 

gen and find work – (I also had to go to see a 

doctor, as I had destroyed my eyes with 

excessive drawing with pen). I was there last

winter and spring and toiled with all sorts of work – and

while I was there, I visited a man, who has

the only print in existence of the original "Foxgloves" –

he then asked me, whether there weren’t other

prints of this woodcut, – I replied that I had 

only made 2 prints of this woodcut, – and he then

wished to know, who had it, – when he asked

might I have the opportunity to see it one day, –

I answered, that it was in the possession of the wife of Headmaster Höst in Kristiania [Oslo]

– I told him, that You had previously sold 

many woodcuts for me, but that I didn’t believe

that the Foxgloves had been sold, – as people most likely

found it too expensive – (it required ca. 20 intervals

of drying between printings and took nearly 2

months to complete) – it was also

impossible to get hold of good paper at the time – when

printing in colour the paper will always expand;

– in a small print it doesn’t matter much, if

there is a one to 2 mm. displacement, but in large

prints it can result in up to half a cm. and

3

that is impossible; – on large woodcut blocks the

woodblocks will also shrink with time or 

expand, – so that it was generally such a diffi-

cult print, that I could hardly print from it any more. This

and more of the same I told my friend, and when Dr.

Kreyberg, who is exceedingly interested in my

art saw my woodcut, – he absolutely had

to have it (or an identical one) and when my friend (Kramer

is his name) told Kreyberg, that in Kristiania [Oslo]

in the possession of Mrs. Headmaster Höst there was an identical one, and

that it was possibly for sale, – he wanted 

me to write immediately to You about it, –

I answered that I would not; – (for

if I could not get hold of better paper or manage to

make a better print, then it was my

intention, that You should have "The Foxgloves" that Mr.

Maschmann purchased. I therefore replied, that the

print in question would remain in Kristiania

with Mrs. Höst, – because there was someone, who 

was going to see it, as they had first option to purchase it,

in the event that they liked it; – I was thinking of Masch-

mann – (according to what You had mentioned about him earlier). 

Nothing more was said about this, and I returned

4

home in the summer, – and the first thing I heard, when

I arrived home – was, that Engel during my absence

had received 500 Kroner from You – from Maschmann, –

immediately after that Engel also received a letter from You,

in which You asked her for a receipt or the likes. 

This has been neglected by both Engel and me

and I therefore beg Your forgiveness a thousand 

times – and thank You for the sale! – I was so

busy and Engel came down with rheumatic fever again

after having in the meantime given birth to a little

boy (whose name is Dagfin) (named after Engel’s brother,

who had just then hung himself. After that Engel got

"knuterose" – which she has had since, – she has 

been bedridden for several months now.

You will forgive and understand my preoccupation under

these circumstances – at the same time I have been

building myself a new studio, – I have 

all my life’s worked under the worst

possible light conditions, – which has greatly

affected both my sight – and my humour and energy. 

Work on the studio has been started and suspended

many times due to lack of cash; –

I have borrowed from the banks here, the maximum allowed,

and they have extended themselves more for me than for

5

anyone else, they claim, and I believe it is true.

We have often been miserably poor during this

time, and if our daughter Kari had not been so

grown-up and clever for her age, we would have

often remained totally "short" of help in the house, for

here in this village the availability of female help has gradually

deteriorated, as all the girls want to go to the city –

or Förde and Sogn. Kari is going to be confirmed now, 

even though she is not yet 14, – but she is fully

grown-up and has been given special permission to leave

school, – since she has fulfilled "the school’s duty requirements" here.

Arnold is an impossible fellow – he disappears before

anyone has gotten up in the morning and is gone the entire

day – practically never eats anything, – don’t understand

what he survives on, – but he is not a "weakling"

either, – is out skiing at all hours of the day and won a 

couple of awards before he was 11 – and can jump 

15 meters. Both Arnold and Kari are often out

all night, when there is a party or dance in the village

and often don’t come home until the next day, – they should

not be allowed to, but they are so "defiant",

that they would rather take a beating 3-4 times, than

6

miss out on such amusement. – One gets tired

of having to constantly thrash ones children, – especially when

one is overwrought and has to perform all kinds of despicable

work in order to survive – (at present I am making

a "banner" for the youth association for 200 kroner). – –

One wears oneself out in this "struggle for survival"

– and what’s worse, one cannot work on 

what one should, – on what one feels the urge to 

do, – and it is a constant torment – and a source of "irritation" and 

"guilty conscience".

Guilt and debts wherever you look – also wear one down, –

but it appears, that the asthma under such a

harsh struggle for existence is unable to "emerge", –

I can sense it well enough – "stabbing pain" as well as

other aches, but as mentioned, – everything that

tormented and troubled me before is unable to emerge

and grab hold of me, – because other afflictions have an

even better hold on me.

Well speaking of guilt, I often

remember, that I am also in debt to You, – but

how much I cannot really remember, – as I

am not certain, whether what I once received in connection with

a trip abroad (to Denmark and Stockhom) was a loan,

or something owed me for a woodcut, – I am a

                               7

miserable chap when it comes to keeping accounts.

I will now try out several types of paper and see if I

might be able to make a woodcut of the "Foxgloves" 

for You, – I have discarded so many prints and wasted

so much time on this woodcut, that I have 

come close to feeling utter disgust for it, and when I

have finally achieved a good print for You the blocks

shall end up on the chopping block.

I sent You a trial impression (first print) of the mountain grazing farm

("the goat farm under the Jostedal Glacier"), – I thought

You might like to have it, – we the entire family

lived on this old grazing farm one summer, and it was 

a happy time, – that is why I made this woodcut, –

I thought it reminded me of an ancient "farmstead",

I saw as a boy; – and I imagined that this was how

a farm here must have looked 2-3 thousand

years ago – outdated things are always relocated to the mountain farms

here. – – Your friend the architect

finds, that the tone is "wrong" – in one of the walls, – and I have

now printed it in various ways and will

send You several to select from, – as I wanted to

present You with the one, that You liked best (I understand which

tone the architect found "wrong" – I think, – it is the long

side of the second house from the left; – we see only a little

of it) – and I am aware, that my three woodblocks

8

in "grey" are not sufficient to produce all

the nuances, – in particular it is almost impossible to cal-

culate "the height" or "depth" of the tones, that

emerge from when one tone is printed over with

another, – it can vary, even when one "builds" up

heaps of paint in the various tones

and uses the same "stock" for two woodcut impressions.

I have sold a couple of prints of the mountain grazing farm ("the houses" as 

I believe You call it) – I have charged 175,00 kroner for it in

the art gallery and 150 kroner privately. – I have changed

the tone in the mentioned wall. – Your print was an experiment

with "warm" and "cold" grey tones, – I have printed it

with totally "neutral" grey tones as well, but I do not particularly

like it; for it was the cold grey tones

in particular, that gave the place its atmosphere, – the

desolate landscape beneath the glacier, where there are almost no

trees – other than bushes on the sod roofs; – and the

weathered grey-washed cabin walls – and the grey rock in the glacier

was equally washed by snow and ice. –

Well now I am boring You, – it was about Kreyberg I wrote, – 

what he has written to You about, – I found out today from Kramer,

that he wished to purchase the "print" Foxgloves, which was

sold long ago to Mr. Maschmann, – I have also informed Kramer 

about this today. In the hope that You forgive this and par-

done my silence: and that You did not receive a receipt straightaway. With

best wishes to You and Höst from all of us

Your Nikolai Astrùp