St. Hansbål ved stranden II

undefined undefined undefined, 1924 - 1928, 800 x 1000 mm

, Griegsamlingen (Oseana Kunst og kultursenter) (The Grieg Collection (Oseana Kunst- og kultursenter))

A bonfire burns next to a boulder on the bank of a lake. It glows faintly, and the flames are reflected in the water’s surface. A group of figures are greatly simplified – or carefully hinted at to the left of the bonfire. Some stand, others sit – while a figure in black is captured in motion as it approaches the bonfire. The column of smoke slowly rises, before stretching over the lake to the right. In the foreground is a green rowboat without oars. The boat appears unnaturally large compared to the bonfire and the human figures.

The motif is painted from the shore of the lake at Sandalstrand. Between the treetops on the hill we can glimpse the ridges of two of the buildings on the artist’s farm, which today is called Astruptunet, and to the right, the house belonging to his neighbour Daniel Fluge is also visible. Down by the lake is the small boathouse that once belonged to the old cottar’s farm, and the green boat may have belonged to the artist. The trunks of the white birch forest light up the evening darkness together with the flames from the little bonfire.

The Midsummer bonfire is a central motif in Astrup’s oeuvre. Astrup painted the first version as early as 1899/1900, while this picture is considered among his last versions. According to Øystein Loge, Astrup painted this and two other bonfire pictures in the mid-1920s. These versions distinguish themselves from the other Midsummer Eve paintings in that they are situated down by the lake. The artist must have been in a boat in order to capture this perspective. Midsummer Eve Bonfire by the Shore II is the only picture in which the lake dominates the foreground in this way. This implies that it is also the only motif Astrup painted or sketched from a boat.

Midsummer Eve Bonfire by the Shore II was left incomplete in Astrup’s studio together with the two other bonfire pictures in 1928. All three were for sale at the Memorial Exhibition the same year, and this version was priced at Kr. 10 000. The critics felt that Engel Astrup had put too high a price on the works, the reason most likely being the large debt that remained after her husband’s death. The sale of the paintings that remained in his studio might provide much needed income for the future. With the farm, which included 7-8 buildings, a large garden and eight children between the ages of 2 to 17, an enormous responsibility rested on the shoulders of the widow . Midsummer Eve Bonfire by the Shore II was not sold until 1954, when the shipping magnate Hilmar Reksten from Bergen purchased it directly from Engel Astrup. Today the painting is included in the Grieg Collection at the Oseana Art and Cultural Centre in Bjørnafjorden Municipality.      


The painting has a sketch-like appearance. It is painted with forceful, broad strokes, and the artist has allowed the canvas to remain unpainted in several places. At the Commemorative Exhibition in 1928 the painting is listed as unsigned, and the signature “N.A.” was perceived as being secondary. 

-1924-1928:

Nikolai Astrup

(1880-1928)

1928-1954-:

Engel Astrup

(1892-1966)

-1954-1972:

Hilmar August Reksten

(1897-1980)

-1991-2001:

N. N.

2001-2001:

Sotheby's

2005-2005:

Sotheby's

2005-current:

1928-10-10 - 1928-11-4

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Bergen

115

1928-11-11 - 1928-12-9

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Kristiania (Oslo)

115

1955-1-10 - 1955-12-31

Nikolai Astrup. Malerier og tresnitt

Oslo

115

1965-12-1 - 1965-12-19

Nikolai Astrup

København

30

1980-3-14 - 1980-4-7

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Bergen

79

1980-4-12 - 1980-5-4

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Oslo

79

1980-6-4 - 1980-6-29

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Trondheim

79

Kunstnernes Hus. Nikolai Astrup. Malerier og tresnitt. Oslo: Kunstnernes Hus, 1955.

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

Kunstforeningen i København. Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. København: Kunstforeningen i København, 1965.