Choose from a selected group of artists represented in the exhibition A Mirror of Nature: Nordic Landscape Painting 1840-1910.

Hans Fredrik Gude
Christiania 1825 - Berlin 1903, Norwegian

Hans Gude was a landscape and marine painter, and, with Adolph Tidemand, a leading figure among the Norwegian painters in Dösseldorf during the 1840s and 50s. Appointed to professorships at the art academies of Dösseldorf, then Karlsruhe and finally Berlin, Gude taught three generations of Norwegian landscape painters.

At the young age of 12, Gude took drawing lessons in Christiania (Oslo). When he was 16 he set off for Dösseldorf. At first he had private tuition from Andreas Achenbach, but from 1842 to 44 he was a pupil in Johann Wilhelm Schirmer's landscape painting class at the Academy of Art. He spent a further two years there as assistant teacher. In 1854 Gude succeeded Schirmer as professor of landscape painting. Gude's early works are characterised by the Romantics' enthusiasm for dramatic mountain scenery and idyllic, sunny landscapes, but around 1860 the focus of his interest shifted to coastal and marine subjects.

In the hope of gaining a foothold in the British art world, Gude spent a couple of relatively isolated years in Wales. He returned to Germany in 1864, this time succeeding Schirmer as professor at the School of Art in Karlsruhe. There he was also able to apply his administrative talents as the school's director for a number of years. In 1880 Gude accepted a professorship in Berlin and led a "master studio" in landscape painting. It was from this post he retired in 1901.

During his years as professor in Germany, Gude made long return visits to Norway in the summer months. On his many tours he would produce studies which he later worked up into paintings in his studio. In the 1850s he went mainly to the high mountains, in the 1860s to the south coast with its archipelago. Subsequently he also visited western Norway: Sogn, Lista and the Romsdal valley. For the last 25 years of his life Gude seems to have preferred a more static existence near the Christiania Fjord. While he was living in Karlsruhe he painted views of some of the Austrian lakes. In 1877 he undertook a study tour to Scotland, and during the summers of his Berlin years he spent time at Rögen on the Baltic coast as well as in Norway. In the coastal scenes of his late period, figures - fisherfolk or urban holiday guests on the beach - play a more important role than in his early landscapes.

In the course of his long life, Hans Gude's art evolved significantly. It is not only that his subject-matter changed from mountains to fjords. He also seized the opportunity to try his hand at plein-air painting. To his students he stressed the importance of a close relationship with nature, and he encouraged them to explore their immediate surroundings. August Cappelen proceeded to record the dank forests of his native Telemark after working closely with Gude in Dösseldorf. Both Frits Thaulow and Kitty Lange Kielland had been pupils of Gude in Karlsruhe before continuing their studies in Paris, and it was Gude who suggested to Kitty Kielland that she should paint her native district of Jæren.

Realism and its demands that art be truthful led Gude in the direction of more everyday scenes, more ordinary weather, and more straightforward compositions. We also find Gude cutting off his subjects in a manner reminiscent of photography, which he is said to have used in the preparation of his paintings.

The Fjord at Sandviken, Hans Gude, 1879

Hans Gude
Norwegian, 1825-1903
The Fjord at Sandviken, 1879