Rosemåling, or rosemaling, Norwegian for "decorative painting", (applied decoration or embellishment, decorative, decorated [rosut, rosute, rosete, rosa] and "å måle, å male" to paint) is the name of a form of decorative folk art that originated in the rural valleys of Norway. Some[who?] art historians interpret "rose" as a reference to the rose flower, although the floral elements are often so stylized that no specific flower is identifiable and not used at all in some designs. Rosemåling is a style of decorative painting on wood that uses stylized flower ornamentation, scrollwork, lining and geometric elements, often in flowing patterns. Landscape and architectural elements are also common. Many other decorative painting techniques were used such as glazing, spattering, marbelizing, manipulating the paint with the fingers or other objects, etc.
Rosemaling is also common in Sweden (Swedish: rosmålning) where it is also, incorrectly, called kurbitsmålning or simply kurbits, where kurbits refers to depictions of Cucurbita. As with the Norwegian counterpart it was most popular from the latter half of the 18th century and until the 1860s.
History in Norway
Rosemåling in Norway originated in the low-land areas of eastern Norway particularly in the Telemark and Hallingdal, but also in Numedal and Setesdal and in other valleys in Vest-Agder, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Rogaland. It came into existence around 1750, when Baroque and Rococo, artistic styles of the upper class, were introduced into Norway's rural culture.
Rosemåling designs use C and S strokes and feature scroll and flowing lines, floral designs, and both subtle and vibrant colors. Script lettering, scenes, animal and human figures may also be included. Artists who specialized in rosemåling often came from poorer classes in the countryside. They would travel from county to county painting churches, homes and furnishings for a commission of either money or merely room and board. Thus rosemåling was carried over the mountains and toward Norway's western coast. Once farther away from the influence of the painters' guild, these artists tried new ideas and motifs. Rosemåling became widespread as amateur artists in rural areas often imitated this folk art. Soon strong regional styles developed and today the three main styles are Telemark, Hallingdal and Rogaland, named after the regions in which each originated.
Rosemåling is, in a sense, the two-dimensional counterpart of acanthus carving, since it is clear that the C and S curves in rosemåling take their inspiration from the acanthus carvings of Baroque and Rococo art and the acanthus carvings in the rural churches (e.g., the altar reredoses and pulpits) and homes (e.g., cupboards) were painted in the same bright colors as used in rosemåling. While in the cities these acanthus carvings were generally gilt, the rural artisans did not have ready access to gold leaf as their urban counterparts and so painted their carvings in the bright colors popular in rural communities (e.g., Norwegian rural dress, Cf. bunad). Like rosemåling, acanthus carving has had a cultural revival in recent times as both a means of interior design (e.g., on furniture, picture frames, door and window frames, etc.) and as a personal hobby, although most modern day acanthus carving is left unpainted and unvarnished.
One of the anecdotes told about the Nazi occupation of Norway (1940–1945) is that at a time when the public display of the Norwegian flag or the State Coat of Arms could bring imprisonment or even death, the Norwegians discovered that they could display the 'H' overlapping the '7' of the royal cypher of their exiled king, Haakon VII, at the center of a rosemåling design without the German occupation forces seeing anything but a colorful peasant design. Christmas cards with the royal cypher at the center of a rosemåling design were especially popular and many have survived and their history documented.
History in America
Norwegian immigrants brought the art of rosemaling to the United States since many of the immigrants came from parts of Norway where rosemaling was well established. They often carried their belongings in beautifully painted trunks. Some of the immigrants were Rosemaling painters. This generation, however, contributed little to the development of American rosemaling in the 20th century, because rosemaling began to go out of style starting in 1860.
Rosemaling experienced its revival in America in the 20th century. Norwegian-Americans became interested in the rosemaling decorated possessions of their ancestors. American rosemaling began to develop and flourish. The revival of Rosemaling in the United States is often credited to Per Lysne who was born in Norway and trained in Rosemaling. He came to America in the early 20th Century and was employed as a wagon painter in Stoughton, Wisconsin. When business slowed during the Great Depression, he began Rosemaling again. Today Norwegian rosemaling is taught in many areas of the USA. Rosemaling associations sponsor classes and competitions.
- http://www.grenstrakter.org/download.php?objectId=443. Likheter och Olikheter page 17. Retrieved 2010.
- http://www.dalarna.se/templates/Dalarna/Page____690.aspx?epslanguage=EN. Discover Dalarna. Retrieved 2010-04-06
- http://www.leksand.se/sv/Startsida/Kultur-och-fritid/Kulturhuset/Museum/Dalmalningar--/. Norrbottens museum. Retrieved 2010-04-06
- "History of Rosemaling". Illinois Norsk Rosemalers Association. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- History of Rosemaling (Velkommen til rosemalingens hjemmeside)
- The Norwegian Art of Rosemaling (Sons of Norway Atlanta Lodge)
- Per Lysne (Stoughton Historical Society)
- History of Rosemaling (Rosemaling by Christina)
- Albrecht, Gary Rosemaling : reflections on the art. (G. Albrecht, Madison, Wis. 1985)
- Bergan, Donna; Linda Alexander Rosemaling patterns for Christmas tree ornaments / contribution from American rosemalers (Vesterheim, Decorah, Iowa. 1985)
- Blanck, Helen Elizabeth Rosemaling : the beautiful Norwegian art (Woodland Park Fine Arts, Saint Paul, Minn. 1975)
- Edwards, Diane Design basics for Telemark rosemaling (D. Edwards, Alamosa, Colo. 1994)
- Edwards, Sybil Decorative folk art: exciting techniques to transform everyday objects (David & Charles, London: 1994)
- Ellingsgard, Nils Norwegian rose painting in America : what the immigrants brought (Scandinavian University Press, Oslo: 1993)
- Martin, Philip Rosemaling in the Upper Midwest : a story of region & revival (Wisconsin Folk Museum, Mount Horeb, Wis. 1989)
- Miller, Margaret M.; Sigmund Aarseth' Norwegian rosemaling : decorative painting on wood (Scribners, New York: 1974)
- Liste Oram, Gayle M. Rosemaling Styles and Study, Volume 2 (Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. 2001)
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