Nordic Summer Evening by Sven Berg

Nordic Summer Evening by Richard Bergh (1900)

I chose today’s painting for My Daily Art Display as it reminded me of the painting I featured on June 9th, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney.  Today’s painting is by the Swedish painter Sven Richard Bergh and is entitled Nordic Summer Evening which he completed in 1900.

Berg was born in Stockholm at the end of 1858.  He was the son of the Johan Edvard Bergh, who formerly spent time as a lawyer before devoting his life to his landscape painting and becoming an art teacher.  His mother was also an artist and so their son was introduced to art at a very early age.  The family were wealthy and mixed with the cultural elite of Stockholm.  Sven Berg studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm.  He travelled on many occasions to France, often to escape the exacting academicism of that art establishment, where he visited the artist’s colony at Grez-sur-Loing just south of Fontainebleau.  The colony was modelled on another famous Parisian artist colony at Barbizon, which was set up some thirty years earlier.  Grez-sur-Loing was the home of en plein air painters and artists from around the world descended on this colony.  The 1880’s saw the arrival in the colony of many Scandanavian artists.   It was whilst in France that Berg was strongly influenced by the French en plein air method of painting and the French Symbolist movement.  Berg became an established portrait painter but was equally praised for his landscape works. In the 1890’s he was in the forefront of Swedish Romanticism movement in art.   He went on to set up an art academy and wrote many books on the subject of art.  He became director of the National Museum of Art in Stockholm in 1915.  He died in 1919 aged 60.

In the featured painting today we see a man and a woman standing on a terrace.  They have turned away from us and are looking out over a stretch of water which has a calm mirror-like aspect.  It is sunset and we see the last of the evening’s orange light on the surface of the water and the forest in the background.  The sunlight adds a bluish tinge to the balustrade of the terrace.  This is typical of Nordic light paintings.  “Nordic Light” was used to describe Scandinavian landscape painting in the late 19th and early 20th century.   We see a boat tied up on the pier.  There is a feeling of sexual tension between the two characters as they stand well apart and avoid each other’s gaze.

The setting for the painting is Ekholmsnäs Manor and we are looking over Kyrkviken, the narrow sea inlet, towards the island of Lidingö, part of the Stockholm archipelago.   The people in the painting were Berg’s close friends.  The man, who was of “royal blood” as well as being a well known artist and patron to many artists, was the Duke of Narke, Prince Eugen Napoleon Nicolaus of Sweden and Norway and the youngest son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway.  The woman in the painting was the singer Karin Pyk.