When Astrup died in 1928, his friends Moritz Kaland at Bergen Art Society and Simon Thorbjørnsen at the Art Society in Kristiania (Oslo) took the initiative to arrange a commemorative retrospective exhibition. Astrup’s own list of 101 pictures from 1927 formed the basis for their preparations for the exhibition. In addition, Engel Astrup lent them a number of unfinished pictures, among which many were for sale. The exhibition numbered a total of 245 works in Bergen Art Society, while certain changes were made for the exhibition in the Art Society in Kristiania (Oslo). Among other things the paintings owned by the National Gallery were only shown in Bergen.

The exhibition received extensive coverage. In his catalogue article, as well as lectures and newspaper articles, the art historian Einar Lexow validated the idea of a feeling for nature in Astrup’s art. The Bergen-based critic Per Korsvold emphasised the characteristic and topographical distinction between “the parsonage period” and “the Sandalstrand period” in Astrup’s oeuvre. The critic claimed that a comparison between these periods reveals variation and diversity – and a stylistic shift. The critics in Oslo, on the other hand, were less positive about the Sandalstrand period. “Uneven” and “weak” are repeated characterisations, and Dagbladet’s Jappe Nilssen expressed his opinion that the later works were only “the sad remnants of an originally great and unusual talent”.

Overall the exhibition had a record number of visitors. Bergen Art Society recorded 12 000 visitors in its register, while the Art Society in Kristiania counted around 2000 visitors per day. Sigurd Willoch’s description gives us an idea of the atmosphere: “The Astrup exhibition was a great experience for many; the record number of visitors also reveals the interest surrounding his art. People queued up on the stairs to get inside and women fainted in the tightly packed rooms”. 

Strøm, Charles W., «Nicolay Astrups minneutstilling i Kunstforeningen». 1928–11–15.

Pigg, «Foran Astrup-utstillingens åpning». 1928–11–09.

Pigg, «Den store Astrup-utstilling i Kunstforeningen». 1928–11–09.

Nilssen, Jappe, «Nicolai Astrups minneutstilling». 1928–11–13.

L., T., «Nikolai Astrup. Minnesjaaet i Kunstforeningen». 1928–11–13.