In this month’s newsletter, I featured artwork by Frants Diderik Bøe (1820-1891), a Norwegian painter of still lifes, landscapes, and nature scenes, who studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. As a lover, though certainly not even close to an expert, of floral still lifes, I had never seen his work before and was immediately enthralled with his frequent painterly inclusions of my two favorite things: flowers and jewelry.
At the height of his career in the mid-19th century, Bøe is established as having been internationally recognized painter, though sadly, according to the Norwegian Biographical Lexicon, “posterity has not paid much attention to Frants Bøe…[which]…may be connected with the fact that he cultivated a genre that has never been particularly strong in the Norwegian context.”
He seems to have been a restless soul on his artistic journey, traveling between Copenhagen, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France, but his eight years in Paris are noted as having been his most creative period as an artist, selling pictures to the French government, King Oscar 1 and the National Gallery, as well as in Great Britain and America. In 1855 he was given the very cool and honorable task of representing the Scandinavian countries during the World Exhibition in Paris.
In midlife, his body betrayed him –as our human meat suits are wont to do once we pass a certain bummer threshold–and this one was a particularly nasty affection for an artist: Bøe experienced a marked weakening of his color vision– a disorder which periodically made him unable to paint and when we was able, the results were sadly, seriously noticeable. These later works were said to be lacking in the quality seen in the paintings from his glowing Parisian heyday.
It was an unfortunate end for Bøe, I’m afraid. In November 1891, he was found unconscious on a bench in Nygårdsparken, affected by what was later recognized by a stroke. The constable who found him disastrously misread the situation and placed him in drunk custody. By the time the mistake was discovered, it was too late to do anything to save him.
What an upsetting close to the story of Frants Diderik Bøe! Still, I am glad to have learned about him, and below I’m including my favorites amongst his œuvre of luminous, jewel-scattered floral tableaux.
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