The wild hunt for Norway: Peter Nicolai Arbo and artistic hybridity in the nineteenth century
Huvaere, Dani Kathleen Barrett
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Norwegian artist and historian Peter Nicolai Arbo created Asgardsreien or The Wild Hunt of Odin in 1872, while on a sabbatical in Paris, France, under the influence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Before his travel to Paris, Arbo attended the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf, Germany, which proved to be an influential presence in his artwork. The Wild Hunt is not only a painting of the mythological story, but a metaphor for a hunt for national representation of his home country of Norway in the late nineteenth-century. The histories, pedagogies, and artistic trends emanating from these institutions will be detailed, which will reveal continental European tastes in art, established and progressive forms of education, and sets the stage for how Arbo's artwork changed and developed during the course of his education and travel. Although his themes never changed, his composition, color palate, and hardness of line changed in accordance to the styles he was exposed to in Dusseldorf and Paris. Asgardsreien was an attempt at creating a national identity for Norway, which was during a period of rising nationalism as Norway was on the verge of gaining its independence from Sweden. Arbo combined his training, observation, and heritage to create his master history painting; the success of this is questionable, according to critics in his contemporary. Asgardsreien stands as a hybrid between earlier genres of painting and realism, and is an example of a transitional work of art in an era of rapid modernism.