Fakes and copies Museums Norway

Works by Astrup in Norwegian collections could actually be copies by his grandson

Nikolai Astrup Geelmuyden admits to creating paintings when he was a teenager

Jesus in Gethsemane, one of his grandfather's works that Nikolai Astrup Geelmuyden (left) admitted he copied

The grandson of Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928) has revealed that he copied an unknown number of his famous grandfather’s paintings when he was a teenager. The Bergen Art Museum, which has almost 60 paintings by Astrup, one of Norway’s best-known artists whose works sells for millions of krones (hundreds of thousands of dollars), is now researching their collection.

Earlier this year, the museum discovered that a painting believed to be by Astrup was, in fact, created by his grandson, Nikolai Astrup Geelmuyden (b.1931), who painted it when he was 15 or 16 years old. In an interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), Geelmuyden admitted that he may have painted other works believed to be by Astrup’s hand. According to Knut Ormhaug, the chief curator at the Bergen Art Museum, there is no doubt that some of the paintings in their collection will need to be re-attributed.

The exhibition “Nicolai Astrup”, on view at the Bergen Art Museum until 31 December 2016, takes as its starting point new research into the artist. The show has been co-organised with the bank Sparebankstiftelsen DnB, which in 2007 bought a 1,100-strong collection of works by Astrup, including 55 paintings, along with drawings and graphic art. The museum is also working with the bank to publish a catalogue raisonné of Astrup’s work, with descriptions of both publicly and privately owned pieces.

Oda Wildhagen Gjessing, an art adviser and the curator at the Sparebankstiftelsen DnB, says that research into all of Astrup’s paintings will start next year. Part of the project will include authenticating works attributed to Astrup, and the bank welcomes further debate, she says.

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