PETER NICOLAI ARBO
Peter Nicolai Arbo was a Norwegian painter. During his nine years of study in Düsseldorf, Arbo developed into one of Norway's foremost specialists in historical and mythological subjects. He also studied animal painting, with a special fondness for the horse, which he with great skill included in his great battle scenes. Arbo's paintings have motifs from the Middle Ages, Nordic mythology and history, and from the thirty years' war.
As one of the first Norwegian painters, Arbos went to Paris in the autumn of 1863. Apart from a few short and long breaks, he lived here until July 1874, when he settled in Christiania for good. The eleven years in Paris received great light for Arbo's artistic development. Under the influence of French percussion painting, Arbos developed into a skilled specialist in this genre. Famous works from the time include Ingeborg, Frithjof's beloved (1867), and the Battle of Waterloo, (1869) both painted during a stay in Norway. Other contemporary works include The Battle of Stanford Bridge (1870), exhibited at the Salon in Paris 1870, in London 1871, and Vienna 1873; moreover, Bjarkes and Hjalte's death after Oehlenschläger's Rolf Krake (1872), exhibited in Copenhagen 1872.
Arbo's main work Åsgaardsreien (The wild Hunt of Odin) was painted in Paris in 1872 and purchased for the National Gallery the same year (revised version of the first from 1869). The motif is taken from an old folk tale in Welhaven's retelling. The big picture is filled with real, dramatic pathos. The rich and imaginative composition with its jumble of human and animal bodies is quickly and safely composed. The color attitude is generally dark, but with effective light over naked female bodies. I reproduction of these, however, Arbo has not managed to detach from the model study. (The first draft of Åsgaardsreien (The wild Hunt of Odin), pencil drawing Rytterkamp, reproduced K. and K. 1932, p. 210).
Arbo is an important representative of the later national romantic painting in Norway. Under the influence of French art, he developed his romantic-dramatic painting with a sure grip on drawing and composition. His color treatment is often smooth and a little nuanced. Arbo enjoyed great prestige in his contemporaries.