Interior from St. Mary’s Church (“German Church”)

Harriet Backer
Harriet Backer, "Interior from St. Mary’s Church (“German Church”)", 1913


Harriet Backer was friends with the art collector Rasmus Meyer who was located in Bergen. It was this friendship that led to her conducting four study summers in Bergen.  

It was during this time that she worked on her most important assignment in the city - an interior from St. Mary's Church, which was also called the "German Church". 

The empty church room we see here is characterized by calm and quiet - perhaps even devotion. But, whilst Backer worked there, the room was almost never empty of people!  

Actor portraying Harriet Backer: Work is going well; but it is a terribly difficult motif, and the Church has been full of Tourists all day! 

St. Mary's Church is Bergen's oldest church and was already a major tourist attraction in Backer's time. This made the process very slow…  

Her client, Rasmus Meyer, had to wait three full years to get the painting for his collection!  

The summer stays in Bergen were a success, both artistically and socially. And she was warmly welcomed by the city's cultural and economic elite. She thought that Bergen was the world's most beautiful city: 

Actor portraying Harriet Backer:
The weather has always been good here, rain almost all too rarely. Naturally, I could use a little more air because I sit 6 hours a day, often 7 in the German church. But you know… work swallows a person, and Bergen is the most beautiful city in the world.