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Join us on a tour of the Jæren landscape that the Jæren painters turned into art. Jæren is characterised as the landscape from Tungenes lighthouse via the hills of Høg-Jæren to Ogna.

Beaching at Jæren ("Stranding på Jæren") by Nicolai Ulfsten|© O. Væring Eftf AS.

Who were the Jæren Painters?

The name Jærmaler was used for artists who became known for their art production from Jæren. They were the Norwegian version of the Skagen Painters, and they came to Jæren towards the end of the 19th century to paint the landscape. The railway that opened in 1878 made Jæren more accessible to visitors, and many painters took the opportunity to get close to the landscape. The painters often came to live at Jæren in the summer, while they often stayed elsewhere during the rest of the year.

Some of the famous artists among the Jæren painters include Kitty Kielland, Nicolai Ulfsten, Hans Gude, Per Gjemre, August Jacobsen, Sigurd Moe and Ole Tjøtta. In more recent times, we can mention Oskar Sørreime, who moved from Stavanger to Varhaug to live in an ancient Jæren house (Jærhus) to paint the Jæren landscape.

Why was Jæren popular with painters?

It is almost self-explanatory to us today why artists fell in love with the Jæren landscape; it is undoubtedly a picturesque part of Norway. The particularly striking light and the exhaustive sky stretching as far as the eye can see have been an inspiration for the artists, and they were especially fond of painting motifs such as the Jæren beaches with sand dunes, typical Jæren houses and peat harvesting.

Jæren nature and naturalism

In reality, the reason was perhaps more nuanced; in line with the rise of naturalism, the artists wanted to convey something new and genuine, rather than what had traditionally been the subject of Norwegian painting. Motifs such as forest and mountain landscapes elsewhere in Norway stood in stark contrast to Jæren, with its elongated and windswept landscapes. Nature was simply less ostentatious here.

Not only painters were inspired by Jæren

The Norwegian theologian and social scientist Eilert Sundt characterised Jæren as follows:

"...a flat, woodless, harsh, most peculiar coastal landscape filled with brown peat bogs and heather moors, with green cultivated land in between a white rim of sand and stones that forms the beach towards the sea (...) It is no mistake that with some practice and good will one will discover that this landscape too has its beauty (Eilert Sundt, 1860)."

The landscape has also been described and publicised in literary works. The nature of Jæren "is for the advanced", said the famous author Alexander L. Kielland. Arne Garborg, writing from his summer cottage at Knudaheio, described the view: as "beautiful beyond description".

Eventually, paintings depicting Jæren became so popular that some started mass-producing oil paintings of the area.

10 Jæren landscapes that inspired the artists

Find the motifs and create your own images. Print out the map and visit the different places the Jæren painters used as inspiration for their art. Cut a hole in the frame and see if you can find the same landscape as in the pictures. Maybe you'll be inspired in the same way as the Jæren painters?

Be further inspired by the beautiful nature of Jæren

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