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Fjord with sailing boat, Hans Dahl



Fjord with sailing boat - Hans Dahl. Around 1937. Oil on canvas. 91 x 143 cm


The works created by Hans Dahl, depicting the fjords of his native country of Norway, could for sure compete with the ones by the recognized marine painter, Aivazovsky, in their mastery of showing water and waves. However, they would still significantly differ in their scale and style. No pathos and intensity of passions can be seen here, and nothing militant and life-threatening is demonstrated. One could say that this is an ordinary pastoral, moved from the rural world to the water surface.

Owing to the application of a harmonious, bright, and cheerful color scheme, one would involuntarily compare Dahl to another master who loved peaceful scenes of everyday love - the Frenchman Fragonard. Although belonging to the different eras, these two masters of the brush are somehow connected through the similarity in the depiction of the characters – their works are always adorned by the ruddy, full of life, fair-haired girls.

The picture titled "Along the Fjord" is a depiction of a small sailing boat having a group of people on board, bravely crossing the rough and waters of the northern gulf. Three women of different ages are there in the boat together with a man, steering his fragile craft with the apparent confidence of a someone experienced in handling ships. The painted emphasizes this with the southwester on the man’s head, which is a traditional waterproof hat of fishermen and sailors.

The remaining characters on this canvas are women of different ages, one of them being a young fair-haired girl dressed in red, who would definitely seem familiar to any person who has ever seen the works by Hans Dahl. Indeed, the subject personage can often be observed in the pictures of the master, clearly written off from nature, for his image is too recognizable and distinctive.

The other two women are older, and their clothing is darker and relatively restrained. The colorfulness of the plot is supplemented with a rather bright sail of rectangular shape and warm ocher-pink hue. The rocky and precipitous mountains visible far in the distance along the banks of the fjord are drowned in a cool haze, adding depth and perspective to the painting.

Apparently, this bay serves as the important communication route, which is emphasized by the presence of a sailboat shown on left of the main craft, and by the several darker points off the coast of the fjord, of course representing small boats.

It should be noted, however, that the fjord, or rather its water, remains the main character of this painting. The artist was exceptionally perfect at conveying the play of waves, as well as their amazing transparency and color depth. Their texture is lively and moving, turning this canvas of ordinary plot into a genuine artwork.
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