Peter Nicolai Arbo. Paintings and Biography
The world-famous painter Peter Nicolai Arbo was born in 1831, near the Norwegian town of Drammen, in the family of Christian Frederik, who was the director of the Arbo folk school.
The boy showed early interest in painting, but only at the age of twenty in 1851 he joined the art school in Copenhagen to receive a two-year elementary art education.
In 1853, Peter Nicolai entered the well-known Düsseldorf Academy of Arts which, back in the XIX century, use to be one of the most influential European painting schools. Its founders and directors were such famous painters as Peter von Cornelius, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow, Andreas Achenbach, Christian and Paul Raudi, and other artists, including those outside Europe, i.e., from America and even Australia.
Under the influence of each of these school leaders, the directions of painting also changed:
- academic, which was far from real life,
- motives of the German Middle Ages romance;
- illustrative direction;
- heroic and revolutionary topics;
- historical, biblical, and battle scenes;
- social and household genre.
The artist gets deeply interested in history, mythology, illustrations, and becomes friends with creative people as well as the publishers.
Arbo the illustrator
In 1859, the book titled the "Album from Aksvalla", which included lithographs made from the drawings by Peter Nicolai, was released. The Swedish and Norwegian military exercises served as the main topics for their creation.
In 1860, illustrations on medieval Norway made part of a historical book.
Subsequently, in some twenty years, back in 1879, illustrations by Arbo about Peer Gynt, the hero of Ibsen's play, were included in the famous edition of Norwegian fairy tales.
Also, some of Arbo's illustrations are included in the “Nordic Artists' Illustrations of Norwegian History” collection.
Arbo the historical and mythological painter
Between 1861-1863, the painter lived in his native Norway, traveling a lot around the country, and studying and drawing with pleasure. One of his first works is the “Herd of Horses on the Mountain”. Arbo likes to turn back to his works, having several versions of "The Herd ...", "Valkyrie" and his most iconic one titled the "Wild Hunt".
In 1863, Arbo left for Paris, where he lived and worked straight until the year 1871. He was always fascinated with the myths and fairy tales, developing the subject themes in his "The Valkyrie" (1865), "Night", "Dawn", "Ingeborg" (1868), "Death of Hervard", "The Battle of Stamford Bridge", "The passage of King Sverrir through the mountains in Voss" and other paintings.
After his return to Norway in 1872, he creates the most important picture of his life, “The Wild Hunt”. Nowadays, it is exhibited in Oslo, in the National Gallery.
The Scandinavian mythology is a sort of the "golden thread" in Arbo's works: "After the Battle", "A Day on Skinfaxi", "Liden Gunvar and Triton" and many others.
Arbo the public figure
Not only was Peter Nicolai a talented artist, but he also become a truly successful and active citizen of his country.
In 1882, he got married and wrote a beautiful portrait of his spouse - "Elisa Arbo in a Spanish hat."
In 1866, the year the Valkyrie was created, Arbo was awarded orders from two countries: the Order of the patron of Norway - St. Olaf, and the Order of Vasa - for outstanding achievements in art for the benefit of the Swedish king.
He also took active roles in art exhibitions, representing the art department of the exhibition in Austria, serving as jury member and a member of the board of the Norwegian National Gallery, and holding the position of a Stockholm juror.
For the last ten years of his life, Arbo was the permanent leader of “Christiania”, which was the art society named after the capital of the Vikings – today’s city of Oslo.