23 September 2009

Mandal artist Olaf Isaachsen (1835-1893) in focus

Sunday 20 September 2009 was the last day of the exhibition of the Mandal artist Olaf Isaachsen’s paintings in the Blomqvist gallery in Oslo. But if you were unfortunate enough to miss the exhibition, you can still enjoy Isaachsen’s art by reading Tone Klev Furnes’ book «Olaf Isaachsen – Med livet som pamflett», which was published in late August 2009.

The exhibition was opened on Thursday 3 September by former Norwegian prime minister Kåre Willoch, who descends from the Isaachsen family.

Olaf Wilhelm Isaachsen was born at Mandal on 21 March 1835 as the second son of Daniel Peter Christian Isaachsen (1811-1882) and Cecilie Marie Wattne (1811-1895), and thus belonged to the Isaachsen-Willoch family’s branch 1 line 2, while Kåre Willoch descends from line 4. The architect Thomas Willoch, b. 1933, who for many years worked at the Royal Palace in Oslo as Palace Superintendent, belongs to the third line.

Isaachsen was educated at an arts academy in Düsseldorf, Germany and was also an apprentice with the French artists Thomas Couture and Gustave Courbet.

Isaachsen was one of the first Norwegian artists who after finishing his education decided to settle in Norway to live on his art. He struggled to get recognition in his lifetime, and after his death at Kjos in Kristiansand on 22 September 1893 he was for a long period a forgotten painter. Today Isaachsen is regarded as one of Norway’s most prominent artists and greatest colourists with motives from Setesdalen and the coast landscape of Southern Norway.

Olaf Isaachsen married at Düsseldorf on 23 August 1864 Antonie Johanne Prehr (1838-1870), daughter of veterinary Wilhelm Heinrich Prehr and Jeanette Walther. The couple had four children – William (1865-1942), who emigrated to New Zealand; Eivind (1866-1926); Johanna Maria (1867-1872) and Harald (1869-1942). Only the latter continued to live in Mandal, but his children ended up in Oslo and in the United States.

The author Tone Klev Furnes has also written other books about artists from Mandal. In 2000 she published «Amaldus Nielsen – kystens maler» and five years later she finished the book «Én by – fem kunstnere» («One city – five artists») about the artists Adolph Tidemand, Olaf Isaachsen, Amaldus Nielsen, Gustav Vigeland and Emanuel Vigeland.


Updated Thursday 24 September 2009 at 22:10.

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