The Norwegians | masters at sea | Norway

This beautiful oil painting by Johan Christian Dahl says a lot about generations of Norwegians - and the landscape and the skills they knew.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
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.

Our most recent posts

My Norwegian heritage

Here are 12 historical photos representing the fascinating Sami culture - with deep roots in the Norwegian and Nordic landscape.
In the year AD 1537, King Christian 3 of Denmark-Norway embraced the Lutheran Reformation, and the Norwegians went from being Catholics to Protestants. The king confiscated the Catholic Church’s considerable wealth, a welcomed addition to the royal coffers. Norway more or less ceased to exist as a sovereign state and became a province under Denmark.
Per O. Rød wrote the history of the Stornæve farm and its inhabitants back in 1968. Decades earlier, several children of Stornæve had emigrated to the US.
In 1942, Hans Hyldbakk wrote the history of the local cotter's holdings in Surnadal, Nordmøre, Norway. The book was updated in 1966.
A primstav is an old wooden calendar-stick, marking the days of the year and important events. It splits the year into two equal halves: summer and winter.
Old objects tell stories, silent stories about a time gone by.
In the old Norwegian farming society, a husmann was a man who was allowed to build his home on a small section of a farm’s land, and pay with his labour instead of rent.
The horse no longer roams wild in the Norwegian landscape. But it still has an important place in the Norwegian psyche.
Langfjordbotn - in Norway’s northernmost region Finnmark - was the birthplace of Oluf Røde, born in 1889.
The traditional Sami houses, the goahti, were in use until well into our own time. Anders Larsen tells us how he remembers them from the coastal Sami communities in northern Norway.
To make sure he could tide the animals over the long and cold winter, the historical Norwegian farmer utilised all available resources.
The Heddal stave church - stavkirke - is Norway's largest remaining building of its kind. It is a woodwork masterpiece, with a history that stretches back more than 800 years.
The most significant sections of Norwegian productive soil can be found in the counties of Trøndelag, Hedmark, Oppland and Rogaland.
Lystring is a Norwegian verb that means catching fish or other water creatures in the dark, using a fire torch to attract the fish and a multi-pronged spear.
The first Norwegian Buhund breed-standard came in 1926, based on a dog that had evolved, lived, and worked with the Norwegians since time immemorial.
Carl Fredrik Sundt-Hansen created this fascinating oil painting in 1904. It is like a window leading into the house of history. If only we could climb through.
After the end of World War 2, the Norwegians all took part in lifting their country well and truly into the 20th century.
On 9 April 1940, German forces attacked Norway in the early hours of the morning. The Norwegian armed forces attempted to stave off the attack, but they were in no way prepared for this monumental task.
With a growing population and public sector, Norway pushed through significant reforms in several areas: public structure and organisation, welfare, health care, tax, policing, public services, and more.
When humankind first appeared in the Norwegian landscape – sometime after the last ice age – the search for food was their primary motivation.
The old Norwegian farming society was a self-sufficient and balanced world. Coins and notes were all but an alien concept.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history