Norway's unknown world-renowned painter

Farm at Esefjord

Art connoisseurs will nod in recognition when the name Eilert Adelsteen Normann is mentioned. Most of us may not have brought with us this great painter who lived on Edvard Munch's time.

Image above: View of a fjord

Adelsteen Normann (1 May 1848 - 26 December 1918) was a Norwegian painter who worked in Berlin. He was a noted painter of landscapes of Norway. Normann was the artist who invited Edvard Munch to Berlin, where he painted The Scream.

Eilert Adelsteen Normann was born in 1848 in Bodin in Norway. He studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1869 to 1872 and his paintings belong to the Düsseldorf school of painting.He studied with the Estonian painter Eugen Dücker.

Normann's fjord paintings are credited with making the Norwegian fjords a more popular tourist destination.

Trollfjord in Lofoten near Vesterålen

Normann based himself in Berlin from 1883.His paintings were nearly always landscapes and invariably of the fjords of Norway where he would show the water combined with small houses and boats and steep mountainsides

Based in Berlin

Normann lived at the same time as Edvard Munch who was a fellow countryman. In the early 1890s, Normann was based in Berlin where he was doing good business selling his paintings to hotel owners. Normann had seen Munch's work when he had been exhibiting at Kristiania.

Normann wrote to Munch asking if he would exhibit his work in Berlin. Munch was so overcome that he packed up his exhibition on 20 October 1892 and went to Berlin where Normann true to his word befriended him.

Outrage in Berlin

Munch's work was placed in an exhibition which caused such a stir that the painters in Berlin split into two societies. (It was suspected that the underlying reason for Normann's invitation to Munch was to cause this split).

One of the regular passenger and cargo ferry services steams up an unidentified fjord in Normann’s The Steamship. Eilert Adelsteen Normann (1848-1918), The Steamship (date not known), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Sognefjord, Norway shows the country’s longest and deepest fjord, which carves its way due east from the southern bulge of the coastline. This view features Normann’s favourite small craft, and the sky and rock have become very painterly. Eilert Adelsteen Normann (1848-1918), Sognefjord, Norway (date not known), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Normann exhibited in Oslo, Berlin, London, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Munich and Paris.

Although based in Germany from 1883, he would return to Norway each summer. Normann and Hans Dahl both had large ornamented wooden villas near Balestrand where they would entertain. His "dragon style" house was bought in 1891 and built (like many Norwegian houses) from a pre-fabricated kit from the city of Trondheim. The house stayed with his heirs until 1934.

Normann notably exhibited at the prestigious Salon de Paris from as early as 1882. His paintings earned a 'Mention Honorable' in 1884 and he was awarded a bronze medal in 1889. It is assumed that his fjord paintings contributed to make the Norwegian fjords a popular tourist destination.

He died at Kristiania (now: Oslo) on 26 December 1918, during the worldwide Spanish Flu pandemic.


Normann's paintings are included in galleries in Bergen, Cincinnati, Cologne, Dresden, Leeds, Liverpool and Stockholm. In Normann's birthplace in 2010 is a dedicated gallery which has thirty of his paintings

Elisabeth Grüttefien

During the later 1890s, Adelsteen Normann also taught other artists, among them a young woman from Kettwig in Germany’s Ruhr valley, Elisabeth Grüttefien. Born in 1871, she was so moved by Normann’s paintings of Norway that she too travelled there each summer to paint them

Image below: View From Reine in Lofoten (1880) Eilert Adelsteen Normann

Elisabeth Grüttefien-Kiekebusch (1871-?), Fjord Landscape (date not known), oil on canvas, 80 x 120 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

Elisabeth Grüttefien-Kiekebusch (1871-?), In Raftsund at Digermule (c 1900), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Elisabeth Grüttefien-Kiekebusch (1871-?), Fjord Landscape (c 1900), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

Steamship Harbour in Lofoten - Eilert Adelsteen Normann


Adelsteen Normann

Born Eilert Adelsteen Normann1 May 1848 - Bodin

Died 26 December 1918 (aged 70)Kristiania (Oslo)

Resting place Stahnsdorfer Waldfriedhof, Berlin

Nationality Norwegian

Occupation Painter

Known for Landscape painting

Spouse(s) Catharina Weitgan(1870–1911, her death) Luise Rostalski (1911–1918, his death)




Aaserud, Anne. "Adelsteen Normann". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 15 April 2010.

Nordic landscapes: region and belonging on the northern edge of Europe, Michael Jones, Kenneth Olwig, p.392, accessed April 2010

Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, Sue Prideaux, p.135-7, 2007, ISBN 978-0-300-12401-9, accessed April 2010

Sch., C.W. (1925). "Normann, Eilert Adelsten". In Chr. Blangstrup. Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon (in Danish). XVIII (2 ed.). Copenhagen: J.H. Schultz. p. 226. Retrieved 15 April 2010.

Nineteenth-century painters and painting: a dictionary, Volume 1977, Part 2, Geraldine Norman, p.160, accessed April 2010

Adlsteen Normann,, accessed April 2010

Adelsteen Gallery Archived September 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Bodø, Norway

Villa Normann, accessed April 2010

External links

"Normann, Eilert Adelsten" .New International Encyclopedia. 1905.