When I wrote about Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow back in 2006, I mentioned that he had become one of my favorite painters on the basis of a single, striking painting that is part of the Johnson Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
That painting is Water Mill, shown above. When I wrote the article I was disappointed to note that I couldn’t find any large reproductions of this particular work on the web, and made a mental note to take a photograph on a future visit to the museum.
Sometimes my mental notes can take a while to rotate forward on the cluttered bulletin board of my overworked brain, but I was at the Philadelphia Museum the other day and happened to take my camera (like many high-end museums, non-flash photography is permitted of works in the museum’s own holdings).
Since then, the museum has posted a larger view of the work on their site, including a Flash feature that allows you to zoom in. I’ve also done something I don’t normally do and posted a larger version of my shot here. I think the colors are slightly truer in my photo, but theirs has better definition. Also mine is slightly cropped due to the fact that I neglected to take lens distortion into account when taking my shot.
I just find this work striking, and visit it almost every time I visit the museum. Thaulow is a painter who walks that line between impressionism and painterly realism that I particularly admire, and his mastery of the surface reflections and translucency of shallow water is uncanny.
For more information and links for Frits Thaulow, see my previous post. The comments section to that post has additional information about Thaulow. Of particular interest are the comments from Vidar Poulsson, the Norwegian art historian who has written the definitive books on Thaulow, including the recent Frits Thaulow. En internasjonal maler (Frits Thaulow, An International Painter). Unfortunately, there is no English translation, and the book is not easy to come by here in the U.S. (You might try Alibris.)