Visionary Romantics

Exhibition of Lars Hertervig,
Peder Balke and Eugenio Lucas 
in Madrid and Stavanger

We are happy to announce that the Norwegian artists Lars Hertervig (1830–1902) and Peder Balke (1804–1887) will be presented alongside the Spanish painter Eugenio Lucas Velázquez (1817–1870) in an exhibition at the Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid (spring 2023) and Stavanger Art Museum (fall 2023).

Lars Hertervig_kystlandskap med fjell og båter
Balke TGC 48 copy
lucas 09010 copy
Visionary Romantics (The Burlington Magazine)_134 x 194 mm copy

Visionary Romantics will include altogether about 60 works from the collections of Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Stavanger Art Museum, and The Gundersen Collection (Oslo). This exhibition represents a unique Spanish-Norwegian collaboration, and is organized by the two museums jointly with CEEH – Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica and NIA – Nordic Institute of Art. An accompanying catalogue will be published by CEEH. Visionary Romantics is initiated and curated by Knut Ljøgodt and Carlos Sánchez, in collaboration with Inger M.L. Gudmundson.


The project explores how Lucas, Hertervig and Balke can be seen as visionary artists, concentrating on a landscape of the mind, and further how these artists applied experimental or unusual techniques to achieve their effects. This loose and experimental way of painting – sometimes seen as a predecessor of Impressionism and Modernism – is a phenomenon found in the works of selected 19th century painters associated with Romantic landscape painting. By juxtaposing the works of the Norwegian and Spanish artists, the project aims at exploring this as a transnational phenomenon, representing new understanding of a particular, somewhat overlooked, aspect of art history. In addition, it will introduce two central Norwegian Romantic artists to a Spanish audience, and one important Spanish painter to Scandinavia.


The exhibition is part of a long-term collaboration between Stavanger Art Museum and Nordic Institute of Art to promote and to stimulate the interest in and research on the art of Lars Hertervig in an international context. “As keeper of the major collection of Hertervig’s works, we see it as a part of our mission to present his works to an international audience,” says Hanne Beate Ueland, Director of Stavanger Art Museum. “We believe that Hertervig deserves a place in European art history – and are excited to present his works alongside those of his two contemporaries in Madrid.”


Begoña Torres, Director of Museo Lázaro Galdiano, says: “Eugenio Lucas Velázquez was one of the 19th century artists most admired by José Lázaro Galdiano. He acquired an outstanding and numerous group of paintings and drawings, which he showed in two monographic exhibitions organized by him in Paris (1936) and New York (1942). As director of the Museum, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to continue promoting the work of Eugenio Lucas outside of Spain.”


José Luis Colomer, Director of CEEH – Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, says: “We are delighted to support a project that explores the innovations of two important Nordic painters alongside with those of our own Eugenio Lucas Velázquez. CEEH's main goal is to promote initiatives that favour the study and international contextualisation of Spanish art both inside and outside Spain.”


 “Lucas, Hertervig and Balke were all artists who sprang from a Romantic tradition, but who also took their formal experiments to a new level,” says Knut Ljøgodt, Director of NIA – Nordic Institute of Art. “By looking closer at this as a phenomenon, Visionary Romantics represents a new chapter of art history.”

About the artists

Eugenio Lucas Velázquez (1817–1870) is considered one of Spain’s leading 19th century painters in the Romantic tradition, and is often seen as an heir to Francisco Goya. Lucas studied at Madrid’s academy, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. He specialized as a costumbrista painter, depicting everyday life scenes of the Spanish people – majos, bullfights and religious scenes – often in a dark and sombre mood. Lucas came to be widely known for his genre scenes. However, he also painted landscapes, both oil paintings in an idealized style, and some imaginative drawings in which he experimented with ink wash and watercolour. Such works were probably not intended for public display, but rather for the benefit of the artist and his intimate circle. After Lucas’s death, José Lázaro Galdiano acquired a large number of his works from the artist's estate. Thus, with over 175 artworks, the Museo Lázaro Galdiano currently holds the most important collection of his oeuvres. Works by Lucas are also kept in the Museo del Prado, Museo del Romanticismo, and the Biblioteca Nacional de España, all in Madrid.


Lars Hertervig (1830–1902) grew up on the island of Borgøy on the south-west coast of Norway outside Stavanger; a landscape that would be a recurring theme in his art. After attending the Royal Drawing School in Oslo, he went on to Düsseldorf in the early 1850s as a student of the Norwegian professor Hans Gude at the Art Academy. He was also influenced by the somewhat gloomy landscapes of August Cappelen and the German Andreas Achenbach. Unfortunately, Hertervig was taken ill and went back to Norway, where he for a period stayed at a mental hospital. The remains of his life were spent in the domestic environments at Borgøy and in Stavanger, were the artist worked in relative isolation and with limited means. In the 1860s and 70s, Hertervig painted a series of striking landscapes in both oil and watercolour; some representing a fascination for decay, others more contemplative – bleak visions of the landscape, perhaps based on vague memories. The major collection of Hertervig’s, consisting of more than 70 works, is in Stavanger Art Museum. In addition, there are important holdings in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, and KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen.


Peder Balke (1804–1887) is one of the most enigmatic characters of the romantic movement in Northern Europe. A journey to the northernmost parts of Scandinavia in 1832 came to haunt his works with visions of the sublime Arctic landscape for the rest of his life. Travelling widely, Balke encountered some of the leading artists and intellectuals of 19th century Europe. In Dresden, his mentor and fellow Norwegian, professor Johan Christian Dahl as well as the German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich were of great importance, though Balke eventually developed his own, highly unique and experimental form of painting. The artist – himself of humble origin and a social reformer – was patronized by royalty and discerning collectors, and received a large commission from King Louis-Philippe in Paris in the late 1840s. Despised by contemporary critics and ignored by art historians for many years, Balke’s art was gradually resurrected in his native Norway during the 20th century, but  it is only recently that he has become an internationally recognized artist. The major collection of Balke’s works belong today to The Gundersen Collection, Oslo, including more than 50 of his paintings. Other important collections of his works are in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Northern Norway Art Museum, Tromsø, and KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen.



About the institutions


Museo Lázaro Galdiano is housed in the Madrid residence of the publisher and collector Lázaro Galdiano (1862–1947), and includes his outstanding collections of paintings, incunabula, manuscripts and other artworks. It holds one of the finest collections of Spanish art from the medieval ages and up to the 19th century, including works by Murillo, Velázquez and Goya, and houses the major collection of the works of Eugenio Lucas. The museum is run by a foundation, Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, F.S.P., whose purpose is to conserve and enhance artistic heritage, as well as to disseminate and promote the arts and culture.


CEEH – Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica is a private organization that promotes cultural initiatives aimed at fostering international Hispanism and academic excellence. Acting on its own initiative or in collaboration with other organisations, it publishes studies of a high scientific standard related to its field of interest, produces informative art-historical documentaries and organises conferences and exhibitions presenting the work of research staff at universities and museums in and outside Spain.


Stavanger Art Museum is one of Norway’s leading art museums, based on the collections of Stavanger Art Society (founded 1865) and other collections. It is today organized as a part of Museum Stavanger AS (MUST), which is owned by Stavanger Municipality and Rogaland County Council, and also receives funds from the Norwegian Government. Its mission is to organize research, exhibitions and a wider understanding of art and art history. Stavanger Art Museum holds the major collection of more than 70 works by Lars Hertervig, including paintings, watercolours and drawings.


NIA – Nordic Institute of Art is an independent non-profit organisation with the mission to stimulate the research on and interest in art history from the Nordic region in an international context. The Institute organizes and co-organizes exhibitions, conferences and other events, and publishes monographs and catalogue raisonnés primarily on Nordic artists. It collaborates with museums, universities, publishing houses and collections in Scandinavia and internationally. NIA is organized as a network of Associate Fellows, including Nordic and international art historians and other experts, and overseen in academic and strategic matters by an Advisory Board.