Spring Atmosphere

undefined undefined undefined, 1902 - 1908, 970 x 660 mm

Sparebankstiftelsen DnB, KODE Kunstmuseer og komponisthjem (KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes)

In this landscape Astrup has used a vertical format, which is more commonly seen in portraits. The depicted subject here is not a person, but a resplendent bird cherry standing on the shore of a lake. The tree is placed at the centre of the picture, yet the ten or so branches issuing from the small trunk, and covered in blossoms, stretch to the very edge of the pictorial space. The dark sky is reflected in the waves of the lake, and frames the blooming tree in grey. The mountain Bjørsetfjellet stands in the background. In the light of the dark spring evening the mountain is depicted in a turquoise hue. The cold, hard winter is still palpable in the landscape, but the blooming bird cherry and the little nest with blue starling eggs are signs that spring is not far off. 

In the painting Spring Atmosphere Astrup has focused on a blooming bird cherry tree that stands at the water’s edge on the south bank of Jølstravatnet. The picture was painted in the vicinity of Sandalstrand – the old cotter’s farm that Astrup purchased about 5 years after this picture was painted.

The central positioning of the tree against the rest of the picture plane, which is built up of vertical planes dominated by sea, mountains and sky, creates a symmetrical order. Øystein Loge characterises this work as a frontal composition. This is a formula that we see in other paintings, such as The Parsonage Garden (K44), Spring Atmosphere (K188) and Grey Spring Evening (K77). Loge compares the use of the frontal perspective, as an artistic device, to the icon, which symbolically establishes a connection between human beings and a spiritual deity. The frontal perspective is also a pictorial device that amplifies a direct and intense impression of nature. The standing format, or portrait format, is another device in this context. An intense connection arises between the viewer and the tree.

The date of this painting is unknown. Astrup gave the painting to Henrik Lund as down payment on a debt in connection with a solo exhibition in 1908. Lund was listed as the owner during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, while Hans Brecke Blehr was the new owner at the Commemorative Exhibition in 1928. Both the date of the transfer of ownership, and the provenance between 1931 and 2005, are unknown. 


Nikolai Astrup



Henrik Lund



Hans Blehr



1908-5-3 - 1908-5-27

Nikolai Astrups Maleriutstilling



1911-1-22 - 1911-2-12

Nikolai Astrup

Kristiania (Oslo)


1928-10-10 - 1928-11-4

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling



1928-11-11 - 1928-12-9

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Kristiania (Oslo)


1914-8-29 - 1914

Jubilæumsutstillingen [2]

Kristiania (Oslo)


1915-2-23 - 1915-12-3

Panama-Pacific International Exposition

San Francisco


1916-1-1 - 1916-5-1

Panama-Pacific Post-Exposition Exhibition

San Francisco

Bergens kunstforening. Katalog over Nikolai Astrups Maleriutstilling. Bergen: Bergens kunstforening, 1908.

Bergens Kunstforening. Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Mindeutstilling. Bergen: Bergens kunstforening, 1928.

Krohg, Christian. Norges kunst. Jubilæumsutstillingen 1814–1914. [Kristiania]: Utstillingsforlaget, 1914.

Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Official catalogue of the Department of Fine Arts (with awards). Panama-Pacific International Exposition. San Francisco, California: Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915.