- Artist: Erik Werenskiold
- Creation date: 1883
- Object type: Painting
The scene of two young girls standing by a fence has been depicted in an everyday, unassuming fashion, but the painting also conjures up a sense of confidentiality and secretiveness. What are the girls talking about?
Erik Werenskiold painted this picture at Gvarv in Telemark in the summer of 1883. The view is from the Lindheim Farm, where Werenskiold’s family spent the summer. He created several different versions, with two pictures featuring a solitary figure and this version depicting two figures in conversation.
With this painting, which contemporaries considered to be highly modern, Werenskiold managed to revitalize the genre of folk-life painting. The scene is prosaic, and the figures are accorded a simple yet monumental form, even as a sublime poetics – one that is downto- earth and rural – runs through the picture. Chromatically, the painting seems to be a virtual study in green, from the sprightly grass in the foreground to the relaxed hues of the trees and the dark, bluish green of the hillside. The manner in which the fence intercedes diagonally into the pictorial space adds perspective and movement.
After studying in Munich and Paris for several years, Werenskiold settled in Norway around the mid-1880s. He became more interested in depicting Norwegian life and nature, motivated in part by his involvement in the country’s struggles for increased national independence and democracy. The girls’ characteristic folk costumes underscore a national theme linked to regional belonging.
The picture was a success when shown at the Autumn Exhibition in 1883. The National Gallery acquired it the following year, and the author Jonas Lie wrote a poem inspired by it.