Harriet Backer (1845- 1932)
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1890 Oil on canvas 64.7 x 66.5 cm (25 1/2 x 26 1/8 in.)
The Rasmus Meyer Collection, The Bergen Art Museum
1883 Oil on Canvas
National Gallery, Oslo
1896 Oil on Canvas
Harriet Backer was a Norwegian painter who achieved great recognition during her lifetime and was a leader among female artists both in Scandinavia and throughout Europe.
Backer was born to a wealthy family in Holmestrand, Norway. At the age of twelve, she moved with her family to Christiania (now Oslo) where she took lessons in drawing and painting, notably with Joachim Calmeyer and Johan Fredrik Eckersberg.
Oslo Burum’dan Manzara
1890 28 x 43.5 cm
National Gallery, Oslo
Backer traveled extensively throughout Europe as a companion to her sister, the pianist and composer, Agathe Backer- Grøndahl. During the course of these trips, Backer continued to draw and often visited museums, where she enjoyed copying old master paintings. Backer later deemed her experience travelling as having been an essential part of her education.
Portrait of Christian Krohg
Study, drawing on paper
The Library of Thorvald Boeck
Oil on Canvas
In 1874 Backer decided to formally study in Munich, where she continued to focus on copying the Old Masters and historical subjects. Backer never completely attached herself to one, particular institution but enjoyed drawing from a variety of resources. After spending sometime developing her paintings in Munich, Backer moved to Paris, where she continued to study and paint. Backer was undoubtedly influenced by impressionist painting, but was always regarded as more of a realist. In reality, Backer never officially belonged to any school but her work is often compared with that of her friend Eilif Peterssen. Backer was associated with many intellectuals and gave drawing lessons to many notable figures throughout Europe, including the novelist Cora Sandel.
Today Harriet Backer is remembered for her contributions to Nordic art, as well as leading the way for future generations of women artists. Do you think you may own a painting by Harriet Backer? Contact us. We are the Backer experts.