Rolf Stenersen

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Rolf Stenersen's home, the functionalist Villa Stenersen, in 1938.
The Stenersen Museum in Oslo

Rolf Kristian Eckersberg Stenersen (13 February 1899 – 15 October 1978) was a Norwegian track and field athlete, businessman, art collector, non-fiction writer, essayist, novelist, playwright and biographer.

Personal life[edit]

Stenersen was born in Kristiania as the son of bookseller Johan Martin Stenersen and Martha Kathrine Eckersberg. He was married to Inger Johanne Martinsen from 1924. He died in Bergen in 1978.[1]

Sports career[edit]

He was a Norwegian champion in 200 metres in 1919 and 1920, and in 4 x 100 metres relay in 1920.[2] He participated at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, where he competed in 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay.[3]

Business, art and literature[edit]

He was active on the stock market already as a teenager. He graduated from Kristiania Commerce School in 1918, and studied at Queen's College, Oxford from 1922 to 1924. From 1925 he was running his own business, A/S Stenersen og Waage, which operated in the rubber business and the Dutch stock market.[1]

He was a friend of painter Edvard Munch from the 1920s, came to be Munch's financial advisor. He was also a collector of his art work, and had one of the largest private collections of Munch's works.[1] In 1926 he organized an exhibition of his art collection, which centered around works by Munch and Ludvig Karsten. He wrote essays on artists such as Edvard Munch, Erik Harry Johannessen, Jakob Weidemann and Paul Klee. He published books on economy, including Penger og tall from 1937. His début as a fiction writer was the short story collection Godnatt da du from 1931.[1]

He donated his collection of Norwegian art to the municipality of Aker in 1936, from 1994 located in the Stenersen Museum in Oslo.[1] His books were forbidden by the Nazi regime in 1941, and Stenersen had to flee to Sweden. His biography of Edvard Munch from 1944, translated into several languages, was Stenersen's greatest writing success.[1] His play Eva og Johannes from 1953 was staged at Nationaltheatret by Agnes Mowinckel.[2][4][5]

His collection of foreign art was donated to the city of Bergen in 1971, and the exhibition was open to the public from 1978. He donated his home, the functionalist Villa Stenersen designed by Arne Korsmo, to the State of Norway as a home for the Prime Minister.[2] Odvar Nordli lived in the house,[1] but the building has later been used for cultural purposes.[2]

He was decorated as a Knight, First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1953, and as a Commander in 1974.[1] He received the St. Hallvard Medal in 1977.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ustvedt, Øystein. "Rolf E Stenersen". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Rolf E. Stenersen". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Profile: Rolf Stenersen". Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Rønneberg, Anton (1974). Nationaltheatret 1949-1974 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal. pp. 78–79. ISBN 82-05-06254-4. 
  5. ^ Skavlan, Einar (1960). Norsk teater 1930-1953 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. pp. 315–318. 

Further reading[edit]