Inspired by a vibrant perception of nature
Ole Juul (1852-1927) came from a small farm in Dypfjorden not far from Henningsvær in the borough of Vågan, Lofoten.
He went to Bergen and became a protégé of the ‘Düsseldorfer’ Anders Askevold in 1873–74, but was smart enough to take an education in photography at the same time. In 1876 he went to Düsseldorf and studied under Eugène Dücker. From Dücker he received an education that was more characterised by realism than that which Adelsteen Normann had been given, although we also find traces of the Düsseldorf school of painting in Juul’s work.
When he returned to Norway in 1882, he lived at a number of different places, including Elverum, where he worked as a photographer and painted on the side. However, he did not feel comfortable in the inland regions and shortly afterwards moved to Beian, Ørlandet, where he had the sea all around him and could observe the varying effects of light where the sea and sky converged, constantly making sketches of it in his notebooks. In 1915, Alf Harbitz wrote that he “still paints as diligently as ever, this venerable gentleman. He lives alone, is friendly towards other people, but does not seek their company.”
It was not until 1922 that Ole Juul made a late breakthrough. The event took place at an exhibition at Blomqvist Art Dealer’s in Oslo – without him even knowing about it. A number of sketches and paintings by an unknown artist, Ole Juul, had been found in Düsseldorf. He was believed to have been deceased, but his paintings were considered so significant that Blomqvist’s decided to put them on display. Subsequently, a journalist from Trondheim managed to trace him and told him the astonishing news – that he had become famous in the capital.
Professor Carl W. Schnitler wrote about him in a brief biographical profile in 1926, saying that “his finished works appear sober, but his studies and sketches are painted with an extraordinary freshness and diversity, inspired by a vibrant perception of nature. Even though these works show signs of being influenced by the Düsseldorf school, they have nonetheless, at the same time been developed with a personal style and are of extremely significant quality.” In Gallery Lofoten there are many paintings by Ole Juul that confirm Schnitler’s characterisation. This applies to “From Lofoten” (undated) and “Lofoten” (undated), while there are also paintings there that show that Juul could also paint in a neo-romantic style, i.e. the style which arrived in Norway in 1886 when Kitty Kielland (1843–1914), Christian Skredsvig, Eilif Peterssen (1852–1928) and others were working at Fleskum in Bærum. They were primarily preoccupied with Norwegian summer nights, working with larger, more comprehensive colour spaces, almost musically tuned to a certain colour key, an accentuated linear rhythm and less detail. We can see the same thing in two of Ole Juul’s paintings with the same title “Evening Mood” (undated). In paintings such as “Nordland Boat” and “From Kabelvåg”, his choice of perspective is comparable to that of the Düsseldorfers, but both have been painted in a way which tends to make one think of the realists. Ole Juul is definitely a North Norwegian painter who has received far too little attention.
Painters of Lofoten
The gallery contains an ample collection of paintings by widely acknowledged artists like Otto Sinding, Gunnar Berg, Even Ulving, Adelsteen Normann, Einar Berger, Ole Juul, Thorolf Holmboe and several others.