Eilert Adelsteen Normann
Eilert Adelsteen Normann was born in Vågøya in Bodin, now Bodø. He was destined to succeed his father as a shopkeeper and was sent to Kopenhagen to be educated. However, shopkeeping was not his thing. He went to Düsseldorf. He wanted to become a painter. Normann had his first exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1875. In 1877 he exhibited, among others, a painting called "From The Nærøfjord". This was later bought by The National Museum in Stockholm. In 1890 Kaiser Wilhelm II also bought a painting where the subject was from the Nærøyfjord.
In Germany, Normann married Cathrine Hubertine Weitgan from Rheinland. They had 4 children: Emma, Otto, Olga and Walter. When Cathrine died, Normann married Luise Rostalski. They had a son called Adelsteen. In 1887 Normann moved from Düsseldorf to Berlin. He lived here for the rest of his life. The summers were spent in Balestrand.
A Edvard Munch exhibition
In Berlin Normann became a well known person both as an artist and as a member of the "Verein Berliner Künstler". He established a school for painters. When Normann was in Norway in 1892 he visited an Edvard Munch exhibition. Normann was facinated by his art and made arrangements so that Munch could bring an exhibition to Berlin. Munch brought more than 55 paintings. Munch and Normann worked together while preparing for the exhibition which was under the direction of Verein Berliner Künstler. However, society was not ready for Munch's art. There was a tremendous uproar. The association disintegrated and the exhibition closed after a short time. The dispute about Munch shattered the art society.
"Nordlandsbåt" with an outboard engine
Normann often painted a steamship instead of "sognejekter" (a boat with high, upright stem) and rowing boats. He owned a beautiful "Nordlandsbåt" ( a boat typical for the northern part of Norway) which he used frequently, and for this he bought an outboard engine. This was one of the first of its kind in Balestrand. Helge Thue, who owned the local shop, often came along as mate on the boat. Before the engine was introduced, Normann had to make do with sail and oars when he went looking for subjects to paint in the Sognefjord area. He often went to the Nærøyfjord but he also went towards the ocean, sometimes all the way to Nordfjord.
A "drakestil" villa.
In 1890 Normann built the first house in the "drakestil" in Balestrand. He bought a plot at the Sjøtun farm with an exellent view over the Sognefjord.The house arrived i pieces ready to be erected. There were lots of wood carvings and dragon figures. It has been said that the villagers showed much interest in the building and people often payed visits to the building site to follow the erection prosess of the house.
Normann's villa in dragon style introduced an arcitectural era in the village history. Just these houses were to give Balestrand a distinctive character which later has been well preserved.
In westerly weather, when the sky is dark, it often happens that the clouds split and the sunlight radiates concentrated light beams down towards the fjord and the landscape. Normann was fascinated by this phenomenon and often incorporated it in his paintings. When this happens a beautiful play of colours often takes place. People called it "Normann beams", and can often be observed above the fjord between Balestrand and Vangsnes when the weather is right.
Paintings in the village
Normann was a very productive painter. He received many awards, among others the Order of St Olav, knight of the first class. When Normann died there was a survey of his belonging. Through this we get a glimpse of how his paintings were distributed. Normann had many of his paintings placed in people's houses. Some 21 painting were in the home of the artist Johannesen and another 36 in Kvikne's Hotel. There were also paintings elsewhere in the area.
Eilert Adelsteen Normann died in Kristiania (now Oslo) in 1918 and is buried here. The property was then handed over to other members of the family. In 1934 the deed went to jordskiftedommar (official who directs change in land ownership etc) Otto Pedersen Resi from Stavanger. Resi lived in the villa until he became ill and died in 1958. Then the property went to Kjell and Heid Gjøstein Resi.
In the summer of 2001 Adelsteen Normann-foundation opened a new gallery in Haalogtunet in Bodø. The ceremony took place 28 July. Many people came to the opening where Kristin Kostopoulos sang and the bubbly sparkled. The Mayor Odd Tore Fygle, Merete Holm from the Adelsteen Normann-foundation and Britt Huse from Musikkfestuka gave speeches. As did the man who is going to write Adelsteen Normann's biography, Bjørn Tore Pedersen.
Greetings from various people, also Adelsteen Normann's daughter-in-law, Edith Normann, were conveyed. Through her daughter; Birgit, she sent her greetings and thanked all those who worked to collect the paintings in a permanent gallery.