Christian Krohg's Naturalism

Oystein Sjastad

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  • Published: November 2017
  • Subject Listing: Scandinavian Studies; Art History / European Art
  • Bibliographic information: 272 pp., 72 bandw illus., 16 color plates, 7 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: New Directions in Scandinavian Studies
  • Contents

The Norwegian painter, novelist, and social critic Christian Krohg (1852-1925) is best known for his highly political paintings of workers, prostitutes, and Skagen fishermen of the 1880s and for serving as a mentor to Edvard Munch. One of the Nordic countries' most avant-garde naturalist artists, he was highly influenced by French thinkers, including Emile Zola, Claude Bernard, and Hippolyte Taine, and shocked the provincial sensibilities of his time. Krohg's work reached beyond the art world when his book Albertine and its related paintings were banned upon publication. The story of a young seamstress who turns to a life of prostitution, it galvanized support for outlawing prostitution in Norway, but Krohg was punished for its sexual content.

In Christian Krohg's Naturalism, Oystein Sjastad examines the theories of Krohg and his fellow naturalists and their reception in Scandinavian intellectual circles, viewing Krohg from an international perspective and demonstrating how Krohg's art made a striking contribution to European naturalism. In the process, he provides the definitive account of Krohg's art in the English language.
Oystein Sjastad is associate professor of art history in the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo. He is the author of Christian Krohg: Fra Paris til Kristiania and A Theory of the Tache in Nineteenth-Century Painting.

"Thoroughly researched and cogently written, Christian Krohg's Naturalism will be the authoritative study of Krohg for decades to come."
-Michelle Facos, author of Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Painting in the 1890s

"The book is extremely rich in its panoptical overview and fills a major gap as the first English-language book-length study on Krohg."
-Reinhold Heller, author of Munch: His Life and Work and Munch: The Scream

"SjŚstad's dynamic study blends keen analysis of paintings with an illuminating discussion of Naturalism, placing Krohg securely among the finest of Europe's Naturalists."
-Linda Haverty Rugg, University of California, Berkeley

"Christian Krohg's inventiveness, cosmopolitanism, and progressive politics will surprise many English-speaking readers.ĘSjŚstad's book will surely insert Krohg into any serious future study of later nineteenth-century art, expanding the geography of modernism and the contours of Naturalism."
-Patricia G. Berman, author of In Another Light: Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century

List of Illustrations
1. Christian Krohg, the Radical Naturalist
2. Naturalism, the Dark Side of Realism
3. The Heroism of the Scientist
4. Hippolyte Taine and the Modern Breakthrough in Scandinavia
5. Christian Krohg in Skagen: Painting according to Taine
6. Naturalism and the Beholder: Sympathy and Theatricality
7. Naturalist Paragone: Literature and Painting
8. Albertine in the Police Doctor's Waiting Room: Panopticon, Spectacle, Speculum
9. Modern Pessimism: From Naturalism to Symbolism
Epilogue: Naturalism Is Dead, Long Live Naturalism!