Norway’s longest river, the Glomma, flows through three counties before cascading down Europe’s largest waterfall near the city of Sarpsborg in the south east of Norway.
The water flow at Sarp Falls, known in Norwegian as Sarpsfossen, is 577 cubic metres of water per second, an enormous quantity of water that is used to power sawmills and other kinds of mills.
At this time, timber is Norway’s gold.
A few people are standing dangerously near the edge of the falls, along with a couple of cows and some goats.
They appear tiny against the mighty waterfall, no doubt deafened by the roaring masses of water.
On the other side of the river, above the sawmill and the workers’ cottages, lies Hafslund Manor, which at the time when Christian August Lorentzen painted this picture, was owned and run by Maren Juel.
Maren Juel inherited the estate from her first husband. She ran Norway’s most power-hungry and, in water-rich years, most profitable industry.
From her windows she could see the river, the forests, the green countryside and the waterfall.
Her life’s work.
Changes in working practices caused by the Industrial Revolution and construction projects would tame rivers and waterfalls in the years to come, but here, when Christian August Lorentzen is painting with his gaze turned on the wild frothing waters, we see the landscape as it was when the waterfall contained gold in every drop.