View from Bastei

  • Artist: Johan Christian Dahl
  • Creation date: Oktober 1819
  • Object type: Painting


There was little at the outset to suggest that Johan Christian Dahl would become an artist. He came from humble origins, and it was only after a long apprenticeship with a house painter in his native city of Bergen that he began his training as an artist at the academy in Copenhagen.

It was landscape painting that captured Dahl’s imagination, and in Copenhagen he spent much of his time studying nature and the city’s art collections, where he copied seventeenth-century Dutch landscape paintings. He articulated early on his artistic programme: to further the great European legacy, but in the context of nature. When Dahl left Copenhagen in 1818 to travel around Europe, his first stop was in Dresden, one of the principal centres of German romanticism. One of the city’s leading artists, the unorthodox landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, soon became Dahl’s close friend.

Dahl made several field trips to various regions around Dresden, and View from Bastei features the Elbe Valley in Saxony Switzerland. To highlight the region’s breathtaking nature, Dahl centred his composition on a trio of visitors standing on a rock that protrudes from a lofty cliff. Even though the painting was created in a studio, its vivid colours and atmospheric effects have the air of a nature study. The lighting and the sky have been closely observed, and the landscape is portrayed in great detail. Dahl’s realistic approach to painting landscapes – what he dubbed “the natural path” – diverges from his colleague Friedrich’s more abstract landscapes and their symbolic overtones, which in the 1820s would gradually influence how Dahl himself portrayed nature.

Text: Bodil Sørensen

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


Johan Christian Dahl

Maler og billedkunstner

Born 24.02.1788 in Bergen, death 14.10.1857 in Dresden, Tyskland

Work info

Creation date:
Oktober 1819
Other titles:
Fra Bastei (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Height: 35.6 cm
  • Width: 54.6 cm
  • Depth: 2.7 cm
Kjøpt 1973
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Larsen, Frode/Høstland, Børre

"View from Bastei" relates to: