Thorvald Niss, Rural Scene (Grisaille)

Thorvald Niss, Rural Scene (Grisaille)

An intriguing late 19th-century grisaille landscape painting by Danish painter, Thorvald Niss (1842-1905). It depicts a muddy waterlogged track running between several small cottages in a Danish village.

A grisaille painting is essentially a work in monochrome and the word grisaille is derived from the French for ‘grey’. The technique dates back to at least the 14th-century and it was particularly popular for frescos. As you can imagine, it allows painters to focus on value and composition without the added concern of full colour. Grisailles can be produced as underdrawings, studies, or executed for their sake. In this instance, we feel that this piece is probably a finished work.

Thorvald Niss was a member of the important artist’s colony known as the Skagen Painters. During the late 1870s, this group gathered in the village of Skagen, North Denmark, to paint outside, en plein air, in a similar manner to the French impressionists. Skagen was a popular Summer resort and the light, sea, and mood suited their approach and style.

They were controversial as they abandoned their academic teachings in favour of light-filled impressions and broad broken marks. Works by the Skagen Painters are now highly sought after with paintings by its leading figures reaching over £500,000 at auction. One of its leading proponents, Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909), produced a wonderful portrait of Niss.

In 1887, Niss became a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and in 1892, a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog.

The painting is monogrammed in the lower left and housed within a gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 18” x 14” / 46cm x 36cm
Year of creation: c. 1890
Provenance: Denmark
Condition: Artwork in good condition. Frame with some age-related wear.
Artist’s auction highlight: £6,500 achieved for ‘The artist's in the Jaegersborg Dyrehave, Copenhagen’ at Sotheby’s in 1995.

 

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