Balestrand on the Sognefjord, (presumably 1839)
Oil on paper laid on board, 21.5 x 28.5 cm
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design - The National Gallery, Oslo. NG.M.01494
This picture is associated with Fearnley's last great sketching tour in western Norway, when he produced many studies and sketches of the Sognefjord in particular. The people and boats on the fjord seem tiny compared with nature's mighty mountains and driving, approaching clouds. This study has about it an immediate freshness which draws attention to the artist's use of painterly effects. An interest in clouds, smoke and atmospheric phenomena was something Fearnley developed after his encounter with Johan Christian Dahl and his accurately observed studies of nature. Balestrand on the Sognefjord, with its strong contrast and inherent drama, shows the great extent to which Fearnley appropriated elements from Dahl. And, in the refined violet-blue palette, delicate brushwork and impression of depth conveyed by perspective, Fearnley's smaller studies reached their zenith. It was precisely this ability to achieve great effects with simple means that Dahl singled out for praise after the young artist's untimely death in 1842.