Christian Krohg was a central figure in the debates about Norwegian culture and society that raged in the 1880s and 1890s. As a result of this friendship with the Danish critic, author and literary theorist Georg Brandes, Krohg developed an interest in naturalism and socially engaged art.
Inspired by the ideas of the realists he chose motives primarily from everyday life – often its darker or socially inferior sides. Krohg’s powerful and straightforward style made him one of the leading figures in the transition from romanticism to naturalism, characteristic of Norwegian art in this period.
“Leif Eriksson Discovering America” was shown at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. In this, Krohg has transformed an earlier composition of fishermen in stormy weather into a historical tableau based on what was then known about the Viking era.
“The Struggle for Survival” depicts the distribution of bread to the poor in Christiania (Oslo), a scene Krohg himself witnessed early one morning.
Before he started working on “Albertine to See the Police Surgeon” (bottom photo), Krohg had himself photographed, dressed in a police uniform, in the company of a group of women. The photograph served a useful material in the further composition. The picture was painted in support of a campaign against public prostitution in the 1880s.
“Albertine” (Photo: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews)
In 1886, Krohg published the novel “Albertine”, which describes the tragic fate of a poor girl who ends up as a prostitute in Christiania. In the picture, we see Albertine to the left on her way in to the police doctor, where she will be examined for sexually transmitted diseases.
Both the novel and the painting provoked lively debate, with the book being confiscated on grounds of immorality. Not many years later, public prostitution was declared illegal in Norway.
Text and photos by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Source: The National Gallery of Norway