At the start of the nineteenth century, northern Norway was still unknown territory to those who did not live there. Scientists and scholars had made expeditions to the region, but as a tourist destination it was extremely remote.
In 1832, Peder Balke became the first Norwegian artist to travel to the North Cape and Eastern Finnmark. The sight that met him from the boat made an indelible impression on the 28-year-old art student.
"We passed the famous Seven Sisters, Torghatten and Hestmannø, and here for the first time I had the opportunity to see the midnight sun, a scene that was so enthralling and magnificent that it kept me up on deck pretty much all night long."
...wrote Balke in his memoirs. Several years would pass before he painted the picture in front of you. In the intervening years, he studied for a short period with the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl in Dresden, but Balke developed his own, simplified technique.
In Paris in 1847, Balke requested an audience with the French king Louis-Philippe. The king had visited Norway previously, raising Balke's hopes of gaining a commission. Louis-Philippe bought several pictures from Balke, mostly of subjects from northern Norway. In addition, he commissioned a series of Norwegian landscape paintings.
During the 1860s, Balke created some of his most famous paintings, including this Coastal Landscape. Balke's art has attracted growing interest in recent years. Today, the sketches and paintings bought by the French king are on display in the Louvre. Balke's striking depictions of specific places and, not least, his atmospheric portrayals of northern Norway, continue to attract admiration.