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'Peder Balke: Painter of Northern Light' on View at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 4/10

'Peder Balke: Painter of Northern Light' on View at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 4/10

Peder Balke: Painter of Northern Light, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from April 10 through July 9, will be the first exhibition in the United States devoted to this singular, visionary 19th-century Norwegian artist. It will bring together 17 of Balke's sublime landscape and marine paintings from private collections and present them alongside paintings by his compatriots drawn from The Met collection. This will offer a unique opportunity to explore an artist who developed a remarkable freedom in his approach to painting that evokes the spiritual naturalism of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) and anticipates the painterly expressiveness of Edvard Munch (1863-1944).

Born in humble circumstances in what was then a northern hinterland, Balke (1804-1887) showed early promise. Encouraged by local artisans and patrons, he aspired to become an artist in the broader European tradition and by the 1840s was a highly original exponent of northern Romantic painting. Fundamental to Balke's art was a series of sketching expeditions that led him to discover the wild beauty of Norway, to which he remained devoted for the rest of his life.

As a young artist, Balke traveled widely-to Christiania (now Oslo), Copenhagen, Stockholm, and, eventually, Dresden, where in 1835-36, he had formative encounters with two giants of landscape painting, Caspar David Friedrich and his neighbor, the Norwegian Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857). Inspired by these artists, Balke searched ever more deeply to convey the wild beauty of Norway, producing dramatic, even hallucinatory paintings that reject conventional fine-art techniques in favor of radical simplifications of form and color.

Balke seems to have ceased painting after the 1870s, and he was essentially forgotten until the 20th century. In recent years, however, he has been rediscovered by artists, collectors, and scholars alike.

Peder Balke: Painter of Northern Light is organized by Asher Ethan Miller, Assistant Curator in The Met's Department of European Paintings.

In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a symposium about Peder Balke at Scandinavia House in New York on Friday, April 21. More information can be found here.

The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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