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What is Norwegian rosemaling?

Velkommen plate DEFINITION:
The term rosemaling means norwegian decorative painting.

Rosemaling, the decorative folk painting of Norway, began in the low-land areas of eastern Norway about 1750 when such upper class artistic styles as Baroque, Regency and Rococo were introduced to Norway's rural culture. At first Norway's painters followed these European styles closely.

Bergen, NorwayPersons who rosemaled for their livelihood would not have been land owners but poor, city dwellers. After being trained within a "guild" they would travel from county to county painting churches and/or the homes of the wealthy for a commission of either money or merely room and board. Thus rosemaling was carried over the mountains and toward Norway's western coast.

Once farther away from the influence of the guilds, these artists tried new ideas and motifs. Soon strong regional styles developed. As time passed the Telemark and Hallingdal valleys became known for their fine rosemaling.Upon their exposure to rosemaling, rural folk would often imitate this folk art. Not having been taught in an urban guild, the amateur became spontaneous and expressive in his work on smaller objects such as drinking vessels and boxes.
Norwegian fishing villageNorwegian rosemaling continued its westward migration all the way to America. Emigration was heavy from some of the areas where rosemaling was well established. Travelers packed beautifully rosemaled trunks to make their journey across the Atlantic. Well known as well as lesser known painters traveled to the New World. However, the contribution of this generation of emigrants to American rosemaling was negligible.
Rosemaling went out of style in about 1860-1870.
Rosemaling experienced it's revival in America in the 20th century when Norwegian-Americans gave attention to the painted trunks and other objects brought to America by their ancestors. Per Lysne, who was born in Norway and learned to rosemal there, is credited with inspiring this revival. He came to America in the early 20th Century and was employed as a wagon painter in Stoughten, Wisconsin. When business slowed during the Depression he began to rosemal again. Other Norwegian-Americans, most notably Ethel Kvalheim, observed Per's work and American rosemaling was born.

midnight sunToday Norwegian rosemaling is taught in many areas of the USA. Rosemaling associations sponsor classes and competitions. The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, known for its large collection of both Norwegian and American rosemaled objects, offers rosemaling classes throughout the year, and holds a Nation-wide annual rosemaling competition.
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