Week 40 - 2015

Norway in colour

Unknown photographer/The Detroit Publishing Company, Romsdalshorn, 1897, photochrome. Preus museum's collection

Norway in colour

When Norway wanted to define itself as a separate country with its own identity, images in paintings and drawings in the first instance conveyed a feeling of community. When tourism to Norway began to increase significantly in the 1880s, a market opened for photographic tourist views or prospects.


First Knud Knudsen (1832-1915), then Axel Lindahl (1841-1906) photographed landscape descriptions across all of Norway. In the beginning of the 1900s photography first began to supplant painting as the medium that could represent "the Norwegian."


We don't know who photographed this image, but we know it was distributed by an American publishing firm best known for its large selection of photochrome color postcards.


The Detroit Publishing Company had the license for photochrome technology and could thus print photographs in color at a time when color photography was still under development and unready for commercial use. Photochrome is a lithographic technology in which each individual color is laid onto a lithographic stone. Ten to fifteen stones could be used for a single image. Laying the color occurred at a completely different place from where the photographer exposed the image, so the colors could take on a slightly different hue than one was accustomed to in natural surroundings. The silhouette of Romsdalshorn is recognizable, but the pink color and the warm hue are perhaps more reminiscent of an Italian landscape.