In the Garden

undefined undefined undefined, 1911 - 1928, 870 x 1090 mm

Haugesund Billedgalleri

Five children are gathered around a blooming apple tree in the foreground of this painting. The apple blossoms are aglow in pink and white, and one of the children – a girl – reaches for a branch and gently pulls it to her face to smell the scent of the flowers. The youngest has found something that resembles a red-tipped May turnip. The eldest child is digging carefully in the earth, perhaps for more turnips or to sow more vegetables. The verdant garden is surrounded by a picket fence. To the left in the middle ground is a small cluster of houses, and to the right we can glimpse the crosses in a graveyard. The background is filled with a chain of mountains, thereby creating an enclosed landscape composition.

The painting In the Garden depicts the old Ålhus parsonage in Jølster. To create this motif the artist stood with his back to the new parsonage building, which was built in 1904, and faced the old, white parsonage residence. The house with the railing by the stairs and the stone table are central elements in the painting Birthday in the Parsonage Garden (K193), among others. The churchyard belongs to Ålhus church and is depicted from a different angle in the painting Ålhus Church (K104).

The children have few distinguishing features and are not possible to identify. There are no precise clues, either, that might facilitate a dating of the picture, but the style indicates that it was created during the 1920s. This points to the possibility that the children may be Astrup’s own.

The painting was for sale at the Commemorative Exhibition in 1928 for Kr. 10 000, but was not sold. The critics felt that Engel Astrup had put too high a price on the works, the reason most likely being the large debts 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 from the ages of 2 to 17, an enormous responsibility rested on the shoulders of the widow . In 1932 the painting was shown at an exhibition in Haugesund Art Society. After negotiating with Engel Astrup, the board purchased the painting for Kr. 4000. Today it is included in the collection of Haugesund Billedgalleri.

X-ray photographs reveals two essential changes to the painting. One of them shows that a figure behind the tree has been painted over. The other is a retouching or painting over of branches with apple blossoms in the upper right area . The branches originally stretched across the sky and continued to the edge of the picture frame. 

According to Øystein Loge the painting was signed secondarily. The assertion is based on a reproduction accompanying an article by Per Korsvold, published in the periodical Samleren in 1931, but it must be a mistake. Comparisons reveal that the reproduction was cut off in such a way that the signature fell outside the framing. At the Commemorative Exhibition in 1928 the painting was listed with the signature “N. Astrup”, and this is in keeping with today’s signature. It is nevertheless worth mentioning that this signature is conspicuously similar in colour and execution to the signatures in the painting Birthday in the Parsonage Garden (K193) and Midsummer Eve Bonfire by the Shore II (K146), which were both added secondarily, after the artist’s death. Technical analyses have not yet been made that might verify whether the same pigments were used.

-1911-1928:

Nikolai Astrup

(1880-1928)

1928-1932:

Engel Astrup

(1892-1966)

Exhibition_history

Separate_exhibition

1928-10-10 - 1928-11-4

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Bergen

100

See_exhibition

1928-11-11 - 1928-12-9

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Kristiania (Oslo)

100

See_exhibition

1932-4-19 - 1932-5-8

Nicolai Astrup

See_exhibition

1955-1-10 - 1955-12-31

Nikolai Astrup. Malerier og tresnitt

Oslo

77

See_exhibition

1956-11-2 - 1956

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928

Stockholm

42

See_exhibition

1965-12-1 - 1965-12-19

Nikolai Astrup

København

27

See_exhibition

1971-1-13 - 1971-2-2

Nikolai Astrup

Oslo

30

See_exhibition

1980-3-14 - 1980-4-7

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Bergen

62

See_exhibition

1980-4-12 - 1980-5-4

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Oslo

62

See_exhibition

1980-6-4 - 1980-6-29

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Maleri, tegning, grafikk

Trondheim

62

See_exhibition

1987-5-23 - 1987-9-30

Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928

Åmot

25

See_exhibition

Group_exhibition

Nordiska Konstförbundet, Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Konstakademien. Stockholm, 1956, 29.

Loge, Øystein, Betrothed to Nature. Det Norske Samlaget. Oslo, 2010, 170.

Bergens Kunstforening, Nikolai Astrup 1880–1928. Mindeutstilling. A/S John Griegs Boktrykkeri. Bergen, 1928, 17.