John Olsen Hammerstad
John Olsen Hammerstad (April 19, 1842-1925) was a Norwegian-American painter who was active in the Chicago area around the turn of the century.
He was born at Kristiansund, Norway, to Ole Hammerstad, a sailor, and Magdalena (Schei) Hammerstad. John Hammerstad served as an apprentice in Norway to a painter and decorator. When he was in his late twenties he studied at Johan Fredrik Eckersberg's academy of painting in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway. Eckersberg, who lived from 1822 to 1870, was a representative of the late Romantic Düsseldorf school of painting.
Hammerstad emigrated to the U.S. in 1869 and settled in Chicago, Illinois. He is considered to be the first professional painter of Norwegian birth in the Midwest. In the 1870s the fine arts among Norwegian-Americans developed in urban centers including Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
He was primarily known as a landscape painter, but also occasionally depicted such subjects as buffalo and boats. His works are characterized by realism and a striking use of light and color. Many were sold to Chicagoans to adorn their Victorian homes. His works still come up for sale with some frequency. Art by Hammerstad is among the holdings at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.
Hammerstad was married to Agnes Klemp, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Christian Klemp of Fredrikshald, Norway. They had four children, and the family resided in Chicago.
- A History of the Norwegians in Illinois by Strand, A. E., (Chicago: John Anderson Publishing Co., 1905)
- Painting by Minnesotans of Norwegian Background 1870-1970, Marion John Nelson, (2000: The Norwegian-American Historical Association)
- Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide 2001/2002 Gordon's Art Reference