Director's Editorial

ASBJØRN LUNDE IN MEMORIAM

by Knut Ljøgodt, January 2, 2018

 

We were saddened last fall by the news of the death of our good friend in New York, the collector and patron Asbjørn Lunde, at the age of 90.

Asbjørn Lunde was born and raised in New York of parents from Western Norway. He studied law at Columbia University and went on to a brilliant career as a business lawyer in the US. However, it was art that became his great passion. He started to collect at an early stage, finding inspiration in his travels all over the world. Lunde collected in a wide number of fields, e.g. Indian miniatures, French bronzes and Old Master paintings. Among his special interests were the romantic landscape painting of his ancestral Norway, probably stimulated by his brother, art historian Karl Roy Lund, who wrote his PhD thesis on Johan Christian Dahl. This interest was eventually matched by Swiss landscape painting from the same period.

His collection counted outstanding works by artists such as Giovanni Paolo Panini, Hubert Robert, Alexandre Calame, and Thomas Fearnley. Lunde had great knowledge in his different fields of interest and became something of a scholar or connoisseur. He was one of the first collectors that discovered the art of the now internationally acclaimed Peder Balke, acquiring his first painting by this artist already in the 1960s.

Lunde was a patron that generously supported several institutions, such as the National Gallery, London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, Frick Collection, NYC, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, and many others. In Scandinavia, he was particularly attached to the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) in Copenhagen, and the Northern Norway Art Museum in Tromsø. In 2007, an exhibition based on his collection of Swiss paintings, Alpine Views, was shown at the Clark. In 2007–08, the Northern Norway Art Museum organised an exhibition of Swiss and Norwegian landscape paintings from his collection, Wild Nature, also shown in Bergen Art Museum and Scandinavia House, NYC. In 2010 the National Gallery of London showed Forests, Rocks, Torrents on the same topic.

Asbjørn was an active and energetic man until the very end. We were many who were happy to be able to celebrate his 90th anniversary here in Europe last summer; a trip that for him also turned out to be the final one to Norway, his family’s country which always remained close to his heart. Shortly before he was taken ill, Asbjørn went to Hartford to attend the opening of an exhibition of works from his collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Sublime North: Romantic Painters Discover Norway. Asbjørn Lunde will be remembered for his friendship and his generous patronage of the arts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Asbjørn R. Lunde was born on Staten Island, NYC 17 July 1927 and died in his home in Riverdale, NYC 30 September 2017.

 

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