View from Stalheim

  • Artist: Johan Christian Dahl
  • Creation date: 1842
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 043 The Collection Exhibition - Forces of nature


Johan Christian Dahl’s journey around Norway in 1826 left a lasting impression on his art. No less than sixteen years later, his drawings of the view from Stalheim down toward the narrow Nærø Valley in Sogn formed the basis for one of his most complex paintings.

In this dense composition, the mountains around Stalheim rise majestically against a dark sky heavy with rain; as the sun peeks through the clouds, light is reflected in the drops of water in the rainbow that arcs over the valley and keeps the landscape in a firm grip. The contrast to View from Bastei, painted in 1819, is striking: while the earlier painting focuses on a rocky protrusion overlooking a sheer drop, the abyss in View from Stalheim is hidden behind the small plateau in the foreground and is merely suggested by the mist from the waterfall. By making the mountainsides more precipitous than they are in reality, Dahl has constricted the pictorial space even further; the panorama becomes both monumental and intimate.

This secluded world contains a myriad of details, small scenes that all tell a story and that contrast the figures’ everyday chores and fleeting existence with the primordial mountain landscape and an entirely different sense of time. As with Winter at the Sognefjord, this painting also contains elements that have been ascribed a symbolic meaning: for example, the rainbow, the most eye-catching element, has been interpreted as a symbol of the divine and as an homage to the young Norwegian nation, while the mutilated birch in the foreground might allude to the violent forces of nature that pose a constant threat to humanity’s existence.

Text: Bodil Sørensen

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Johan Christian Dahl

Maler og billedkunstner, Painter, Visual artist

Born 24.02.1788 in Bergen, death 14.10.1857 in Dresden, Tyskland

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Fra Stalheim (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Height: 189.7 cm
  • Width: 245.8 cm
  • Depth: 2.7 cm
Gave fra Carl Gustav Wedel-Jarlsberg 1914
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre

"View from Stalheim" relates to: