While now sitting nearly 3000 km away from Falun, in a medieval fortress (with a slightly more modern interior than 500 years ago….) in Apulia, on the East Coast of Italy, with Mia sleeping on the floor next to me, after a long hike through the countryside, my mind is traveling back to a memorable evening run we both had a month ago along the Dal River in Sweden.
While the sun was setting late at night over the water, I started to understand why artists like Carl Larson or Anders Zorn (eventually) decided to remain in Dalarna, rather than moving South to a much warmer climate and possibly to a more entertaining and probably more comfortable life like here in Italy or France…..
It all had to do with a single view that lasted not more than 15 minutes:
The beautiful spectrum of colour and light in this evening scene reminded me immediately of a couple of paintings of two other artists of two different periods, working with completely different styles.
The sun slowly setting behind the chimney of the local steel works, creating a rich palette of blue, red, grey and yellow tones, both on the sky as well as in the water of the river, was not dissimilar to the scene so famously captured by J.M.W. Turner in his great painting of “The Fighting Temeraire” nearly 200 years ago. Here too the water is virtually still, reflecting the warm light of the sky above in its entire glory, while this once great man-of-war was tugged to its final resting place.
The trees and the illuminated house on the other side of the river however, devoid of virtually all colour and appearing like completely black silhouettes, could also have been – just over a hundred years later – the setting for René Magritte’s surrealistic masterpiece “The Empire of Light”, just lacking the paradoxical clouds and the blue sky above the scene.
Neither Larson nor Zorn were great landscape painters, but undoubtedly the long evening light in the middle of the summer and the effect it had on the people in their paintings must have played a role why the summer and probably the life in the Northern hemisphere can be so irresistible.