Decorative plate

  • Artist: Borghild Arnesen
  • Creation date: 1910
  • Object type: Decorative plate


Borghild Arnesen

Painter, Chiseler

Born 30.04.1872, death 02.09.1950

Borghild Arnesen was a versatile artist. In her day, she was best known for her decorative metal artworks. She made mostly usable objects such as mirrors, dishes, frames, jewellery and boxes.

From Sarpsborg to Paris

Arnesen grew up in Sarpsborg in Norway. She wanted to become a painter and began studying at Tegneskolen in Christiania at the age of twenty. She then studied under Harriet Backer and Asta Nørregaard for a year. In 1895 she left for Paris and studied at Academie Delécluse until 1898. This private art school was known for accommodating women. Her interest in metalwork was sparked during a study tour to Rome in 1898. To learn the craft, she visited the French enamel artist Armand Point in Marlatte at Fontainebleau, just outside Paris. A few years later she had her first exhibitions of metal artworks in both Paris and Oslo.

"Nature is so boring"

Arnesen held several solo exhibitions at Blomqvist Kunsthandel in Oslo throughout her career. In connection with an exhibition in 1946, she stated in an interview that she thought that reproducing realistic nature in art did not suit her, it was too boring. Her sources of inspiration were books, religious stories, fairy tales and museum items. She specifically mentioned Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and Kipling's The Jungle Book. She also studied older Mexican art and immersed herself in Indian mythology.

Reliefs inspired by theosophy

The reliefs in the National Museum's collection show Arnesen's interest in religion and mythology. Christ and the Immortal Pilgrim is a depiction of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River. In Black Magic of Estiurl we can see inspiration from classical Indian art with references to the teachings of the Buddha (Dharma), while From the Golden Age of Atlantide is about Atlantis, the lost civilisation mentioned in antiquity. Arnesen also made use of several themes from theosophy, the philosophical and religious movement . Theosophy originated in the 1870s. It represented a new view of humanity and emphasised spiritual development.

Back in the spotlight

Despite the fact that Arnesen exhibited regularly, sold well and received many good reviews in both the Norwegian and French press, she has been partly forgotten by posterity. She lived and worked in Paris most of her active years, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why so little mention is made of her in Norwegian art history.


Work info

Creation date:
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Fat i sølv, hamret korpus med drevet og siselert dekor
  • Diameter: 39.5 cm
  • Height: 2.7 cm
Style period:
Production place:
Purchased 2020
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Design Collections
Frode Larsen