Oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857). From the collections of the KODE Museum in Bergen. | Photo: Dag Fosse - digitaltmuseum.no BB.M.00624 - public domain.
Oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857). From the collections of the KODE Museum in Bergen. | Photo: Dag Fosse - digitaltmuseum.no BB.M.00624 - public domain.

Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857) was the son of a fisherman, born in Bergen on the west-coast, and a master at capturing the force of the Norwegian landscape.

He lived much of his life in Dresden – in inland Germany – a long way away from the powerful world of his childhood.

For millennia, the Norwegians have mastered the ocean and the country’s many waterways. The sea provided food in abundance – and was the coastal people’s main thoroughfare.

What the modern-day Norwegians tend to forget, is that roads, tunnels and bridges are relatively recent acquaintances. Next to Canada, Norway has the longest coastline in the world. Until well into the 1900’s, the fjords and the coastal waters were where people travelled – on all kinds of water faring vessels – big and small. Whether when going to church, fishing, or trading one’s wares.

The Norwegian seafarers travelled to all corners of the planet, and as late as in the 1960s and 1970s, many young people spent a year or more at sea, just like their older mates had done before them. «Til sjøs» – at sea – are two words that still carry a world of adventure for many Norwegians today.

Shipwrecked on the coast of Norway. Oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl, painted in 1830. Throughout history, the Norwegians have travelled and harvested the ocean - but also suffered and lost their daughters and sons to its ferocious might. | Photo: KODE Museum - digitaltmuseum.no BB.M.01239 - public domain.
Shipwrecked on the coast of Norway. Oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl, painted in 1830. Throughout history, the Norwegians have travelled and harvested the ocean – but also suffered and lost their daughters and sons to its ferocious might. | Photo: KODE Museum – digitaltmuseum.no BB.M.01239 – public domain.