View from Stalheim

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View from Stalheim
Norwegian: Fra Stalheim
Johan Christian Claussen Dahl – View from Stalheim – Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistJohan Christian Dahl
Year1842 (1842)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions190 cm × 246 cm (75 in × 97 in)
LocationNational Gallery of Norway, Oslo

View from Stalheim (Norwegian: Fra Stalheim) is an 1842 oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl of the mountainous view from Stalheim, Voss, Hordaland. It is a major work of Romantic nationalism and has become a national icon. It is regarded as one of Dahl's best works.


The painting shows the view from the peak at Stalheim over the Nærøy Valley towards the sugarloaf-shaped peak of Jordalsnuten[1][2] in late afternoon sunshine, framed by peaks and a rainbow. The sun shines on a small village near the centre. Dahl has clearly delineated figures and buildings even in the distance, creating "a world in miniature".[3] One of his purposes was realism; the other was to capture the glory and magnificence of the mountains, and associated with that, of his country's culture.[3][4][5] In this evocation of grandeur the painting prefigures later US landscapes, in particular Church's Rainy Season in the Tropics (1866), which has a similar crowning rainbow.[3][6] The rainbow itself, a symbol of reconciliation, peace, and in Christianity of God's grace,[7] was also frequently used by Joseph Anton Koch and by Dahl's friend and associate Caspar David Friedrich.[8]


Dahl began work on the painting in 1836 and completed it in 1842.[9][10] It is based on two pencil and watercolour sketches he had made from the Gudvangen road in July 1826[11][12][13] during his first visit to the high mountain regions of Norway. The final version is close to the studies in both composition and details, including the sunlight highlighting the village;[3] but Dahl has intensified the imagery by narrowing the valley, giving more prominence to the Jordalsnuten peak and less to the reappearance of the river from the shadows.[4]

Dahl had trouble with the painting and avoided similarly large works after its completion.[14]


The painting was made for Countess Wedel of Bogstad.[14] Carl Gustav Wedel-Jarlsberg gave it to the National Gallery of Norway in 1914.[15]


The painting is regarded as one of Dahl's best,[16][17] perhaps his most successful realisation of his aim of depicting the mountains both realistically and as national symbols.[3][5] It has become a national icon.[6][7] Other painters have also depicted the scene,[1] and even more than his other Norwegian landscapes, this one drove tourists to visit the site: the luxury hotel built at Stalheim in 1885 is attributable to it.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Stalheim", Store norske leksikon, 14 February 2009, retrieved 23 October 2014 (in Norwegian).
  2. ^ The Making of a Land: Geology of Norway, ed. Ivar B. Ramberg et al., Trondheim: Norsk Geologisk Forening, 2008, ISBN 9788292394427, p. 111.
  3. ^ a b c d e Torsten Gunnarsson, tr. Nancy Adler, Nordic Landscape Painting in the Nineteenth Century, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University, 1998, ISBN 9780300070415, pp. 90–94.
  4. ^ a b c Susanne Wittekind, "Natur, Volk und Geschichte. Die künstlerische Konstruktion Norwegens in der Landschaftsmalerei Johan Christian Claussen Dahls (1788–1857)", in Die Lesbarkeit der Romantik: Material, Medium, Diskurs, ed. Erich Kleinschmidt, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009, pp. 309–335, p. 328 (in German).
  5. ^ a b Ronald G. Popperwell, Norway, Nations of the modern world, New York: Prager, 1972, OCLC 514904, p. 51.
  6. ^ a b Arne Neset, Arcadian Waters and Wanton Seas: The Iconology of Waterscapes in Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Culture, American University Studies Series XIX,, General Literature, 36, New York: Lang, 2009, ISBN 978-1433102974, p. 58.
  7. ^ a b Åshild Brenne, "Historiske linjer", Nye Meninger, Dagsavisen, 24 December 2010 (in Norwegian).
  8. ^ Susanne Wittekind, "Natur, Volk und Geschichte. Die künstlerische Konstruktion Norwegens in der Landschaftsmalerei Johan Christian Claussen Dahls (1788–;1857)", in Die Lesbarkeit der Romantik: Material, Medium, Diskurs, ed. Erich Kleinschmidt, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009, p. 326 (in German).
  9. ^ "Nature's way": Romantic Landscapes from Norway: Oil Studies, Watercolours and Drawings by Johan Christian Dahl (1788–1857) and Thomas Fearnley (1802–1842), ed. Jane Munro, exhibition catalogue, Manchester: Whitworth Gallery, University of Manchester / Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 1993, ISBN 9780904454307, p. 19.
  10. ^ Caspar David Friedrich, Johan Christian Dahl: Zeichnungen der Romantik, ed. Kornelia von Berswordt-Wallrabe, exhibition catalogue, Schwerin: Staatliches Museum, 2001, ISBN 9783861060673, p. 19 (in German).
  11. ^ Darkness and Light: The Proceedings of the Oslo Symposium 25.–28. August 1994, ed. Roger Erlandsen and Vegard S. Halvorsen, Oslo: National Institute for Historical Photography and Norwegian Society for the History of Photography in association with European Society for the History of Photography, 1995, ISBN 9788299073554, p. 46, note 5.
  12. ^ Wittekind, p. 325 (in German).
  13. ^ Andreas Aubert, Professor Dahl: et stykke av aarhundredets kunst- og kulturhistorie, Christiania: Aschehoug, 1893, OCLC 27733743, p. 224 (in Norwegian)
  14. ^ a b Andreas Aubert, Den nordiske naturfølelse og professor Dahl: hans kunst og dens stilling i aarhundredets utvikling, Christiania: Aschehoug, 1894, OCLC 27821682, pp. 151–52 (in Norwegian).
  15. ^ "Fra Stalheim [Maleri]", Digitalt Museum, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design (in Norwegian).
  16. ^ Jens Thiis, "Johan Christian Dahl", The American-Scandinavian Review 26 (1938) 5–21, p. 20.
  17. ^ Carl G. Laurin, Emil Hannover and Jens Thiis, Scandinavian Art, Scandinavian monographs 5, New York: American-Scandinavian Foundation / London: Milford, 1922, OCLC 1572380, p. 443.

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