The Midsummer Fire Stone

Oil on canvas, 1908 - 1928, [980] x [1220] mm

Unknown owner

A man wearing a hat is sitting in the grass drinking from a bottle. He is right in the foreground, down in the left-hand corner, and his face is turned towards two bonfires that are burning in the middle ground on the right. The bonfires are on an elevation, overlooking a landscape of fjords and mountains, and they are surrounded by groups of barely-drawn people indicated by small, dark brushstrokes on the canvas. The smoke from the bonfires rises up and pours down the valleys, and in the distant mountains, the smoke from other fires can be seen rising up towards the light summer sky.

“The Midsummer Fire Stone” is one of the studies for Midsummer Eve Bonfire (K55), and the sketch-like feel, with fast brushstrokes and simple contours, clearly comes across from the old sepia photograph. The photograph is from an album belonging to Astrup’s close friend Per Kramer (1872–1946), and it was probably taken in conjunction with the memorial exhibition in 1928.  

When Astrup died in 1928, the painting was inherited by his widow Engel Astrup (1892–1966). At the memorial exhibitions in Bergen and Kristiania (Oslo) that same year, this was one of the paintings she put up for sale. The price of this painting was 6,000 kroner, but it was not sold. A letter from the Bergens kunstforening to Christiania kunstforening (art societies) states that: “the unreasonably high prices demanded by Mrs. Astrup have prevented any sales. Hopefully – both for the sake of Mrs. Astrup and yourself – she will revise the prices when the exhibition opens in Oslo.” Engel Astrup had received good advice in relation to the pricing. She was left with large debts after her husband’s death, and the sale of paintings still in his studio was a welcome source of future income.

Their daughter Turid Astrup Jacobsen (1916–1991) inherited the picture in the 1950s, and sold it to an unknown person after the Astrup exhibition in Copenhagen in 1965. Its subsequent history is unknown.  

Technical description




Nikolai Astrup



By descent, to

Engel Astrup



Gift to

Turid Hjørdis Petra Astrup


Exhibition history

Solo exhibition

1928-10-10 - 1928-11-4

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling


Catalogue number 109

See exhibition

1928-11-11 - 1928-12-9

Nikolai Astrup. Mindeutstilling

Kristiania (Oslo)

Catalogue number 109

See exhibition

1965-12-1 - 1965-12-19

Nikolai Astrup


Catalogue number 18

See exhibition

Group exhibition


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

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