Memorable paintings

The sport of going fishing = “Går fiske!”

MARY JO THORSHEIM
Norway Art®

Years ago in Norway, commercial fishermen probably did not favor fishing in their time off! They worked hard to earn income from a job that was physically demanding, carried serious risks with it, and often required weeks or months away from family. Commercial fishing should be distinguished from personal/recreational fishing.

Today, personal/recreational fishing is a popular interest in Norway; for many people, it is the ultimate friluftsliv activity to connect with nature. Their fishing methods may include setting nets, fly fishing, jigging from a boat, or fishing with a rod or purse seine from shore. Abundant lakes, rivers, streams, fjords, and the sea teem with saltwater or freshwater fish.

A wide selection of fish is available in stores and fish markets, on restaurant menus, or self-caught when the season and government regulations permit. Fishermen bring in salmon, trout (sea or brook), sei, monkfish, steinbit, mackerel, halibut, herring, and other varieties. 

Just thinking about types of fish may bring back memories like mine: We hear our order of fresh mackerel sizzling on the stove of the 1898 Grand Hotel in Flekke-fjord, where the small dining room swinging door to the kitchen allowed the aroma to waft to the guests. Marit’s mother’s sei in brown gravy on Bømlo. Salmon, hot or cold. Fish cakes. Trout at the Hotel Britannia, Trondheim. Bondeheimen, Oslo cafeteria for steinbit, or daglig rett (daily special) fish at small dining rooms in pensions, bus depots, hospitals, and more …

“Gone Fishin’ 1915” oil painting by Olof Jonas Grafström (1855 – 1933)  

Gone fishing painting

“Gone Fishin’’’ by Olof Jonas Grafström, oil on canvas, 1915. The idyllic scene with its subject, composition and light effects, conveys a feeling of calm.

The idyllic scene with its subject, composition and light effects, conveys a feeling of calm.

Its setting could be in any of the Scandinavian countries or in America.

Born in Attmar, Sweden, Olof Grafström lived in the Pacific Northwest in the 1880s, first in Portland, Ore., in 1886, and then in Spokane, Wash. Next, he taught at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., for four years. After moving to Rock Island, Ill., he taught at Augustana College until 1920. 

Peaceful streams such as the one shown in this painting would have been accessible to him in any of the places where he lived. He was especially known for his landscape painting and contribution to art education.

“Salmon Fishing in Norway 1800s” oil by unknown artist.

“Salmon Fishing in Norway 1800s” oil painting by unknown artist

The creator of this work of art was certainly skilled. It is a detailed and intriguing smaller canvas. A solitary fisherman fishes in a lush Norwegian setting, in what looks like a perfect place to catch salmon. 

The subject and composition resemble some of the famous paintings by J.C. Dahl (1788 – 1857), who was known as the “father of Norwegian painting.” Research with Norwegian art experts has been initiated to explore whether the painting actually may have been done by Dahl. 

“Quiet Cove” oil painting by Jonas Lie (1880 – 1940)

Quiet Cove painting

“Quiet Cove,” oil on canvas, by Jonas Lie (1880 – 1940). It is not known whether Jonas Lie liked to fish, but because he grew up in Norway it is very possible that he did. Also, it is likely that he fished with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is a fact that Jonas Lie and his wife, Inga, were personal friends of FDR and Eleanor. Boating was a major activity at the Roosevelt’s “Campobello” on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, where Jonas and Inga visited them. FDR loved to fish, according to records of his hobbies.

Sailboats have glided into the harbor and anchored there in this stunning painting by one of America’s best marine artists. It is likely that many of their sailors had fished from them while sailing off the New England Coast. 

It is not known whether Jonas Lie liked to fish, but because he grew up in Norway it is very possible that he did.

Also, it is likely that he fished with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is a fact that Jonas Lie and his wife, Inga, were personal friends of FDR and Eleanor. Boating was a major activity at the Roosevelt’s “Campobello” on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, where Jonas and Inga visited them. FDR loved to fish, according to records of his hobbies. His favorite fishing rod was a Regulation Saltwater Rod, Long. 

Jonas Lie immigrated to America in 1893. Although he did paint in Norway, his fascinating coastal scenes from New England and Eastern Canada were some of his most important works. 

“Fishing Off Bergen 1895” by Julius Holck (1846 – 1911)

Fishing Off Bergen painting

“Fishing Off Bergen, 1895,” oil by Julius Holck (1846 – 1911), depicts a Bergenser, who has waded into Puddefjord in Bergen. Askøy is in the distance, and the background is a beautifully tinted sky.

The oil painting “Fishing off Bergen 1895” depicts a Bergenser, who has waded into Puddefjord in Bergen. Askøy is in the distance and the background is a beautifully tinted sky. 

He throws out a seine or “purse net” to fish for maybe cod or sei. He looks as if he is still dressed for business in the city except for the waders he is wearing. The fish he will undoubtedly catch with his purse seine would make a delicious middags (dinner)! From water to table.

God sommar, good luck fishing, and bon appétit (for tasty fish)!

All photos courtesy of Norway Art

This article originally appeared in the July 9, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Mary Jo Thorsheim

Mary Jo Thorsheim, Ph.D., the owner of the Norway Art® importing business for 40 years, was invited to donate a monthly article for The Norwegian American. She welcomes contact by email at mjtmng@gmail.com or phone at (612) 339-7829. For more information, visit www.norwayartonline.com and norwayartoriginals.com.

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