What is Rosemaling?
Norwegian Rosemaling or rose painting, originated in the Scandinavian Rosemaling countries of Finland, Norway, Sweden and
Denmark. Also called Dalmaling in Sweden. The rose was considered to be the sign of Christ. Rosemaling was at its zenith from 1700
until about 1850. This painting style art reflects the influences of the French Rococo and Baroque styles. Initially, artists
decorated the homes of the nobility, however, a modified folk art soon spread to other classes. Due to the isolation of the
northern Scandinavian communities, rosemaling developed independently in each region resulting in many unique styles.
Emigrants to America brought the art with them. Some of which came be found in places such as the Norwegian American Museum in
Decorah, Iowa. The traditions are kept alive locally by members of the California Rosemaling
How is Rosemaling Created?
Rosemaling designs are created from C and S strokes and generally characterized by flowing lines and scroll, imaginative, fanciful
flowers, and subtle colors - earthy red, green, white, yellow, and blue. These strokes formed stylized roses and acanthus leaves which
were the primary forms. The designs might also include figures, community scenes, animals and script lettering. Rosemaling is very 2
dimensional in design. To create the illusion of depth in the design, the thickness of the scroll lines varied from thick to thin.
Crosshatching, - which consists of overlapping lines, was not only used as an accent but also to fill in the design and add texture.
Influences came from valley to valley as well as other countries.
Today Rosemaling is found throughout the world including China, Holland, and Germany. You can learn the basics with a step by step plate
project located at Craftown.com.
The various forms of Rosemaling were named after the towns or regions in which they originated. One of the most widely used was known as Telemark. Soon Rosemaling appeared on essential items such as plates, bowls, spoons and furniture. When the Norwegians emigrated to America, they brought their art with them. One important Norwegian tradition was the bride's Rosemaled dowry chest. These beautiful chests became the couple's most valuable possession since it could hold so much. Most early decorative painters were self-taught. These artists used their art to decorate their homes. No two items were the same. Therefore, a family's possessions could be identified by it's unique patterns.
Early American painters were self-taught, remembering the decorations painted by skilled craftsmen back in their homelands. They began to change their own household wares and become their own decorators. No two items were identical. Families could be identified by their unique style and approach to the technique. As Rosemaling began dying out in Norway, it continued to thrive in the American Midwest up to the Victorian era. In the 1970's, Rosemaling was rediscovered and now enjoys a resurgence in popularity.
Different kinds of Rosemaling
Telemark - The most well know of the styles. It has graceful "c" and "s" lines, elegant stems, overlapping scrolls, and imaginary flowers. Layers of semitransparent color are used to achieve an asymmetrical, light and airy feel.
Hallingdal (Hallmark) - Hallingdal lies to the north of the Telemark area of Norway, a beautiful valley in the Buskerud Fylke. There were many painters from this culturally-rich area. They painted symmetrical designs with bold colors, avoided a lot of detail, and used dark bold outlining usually bold and bright with little shading.
Rogaland - known for its stylized flowers that take precedence over the scrolls in a design. These arrangements are balanced with a symmetrical geometric design radiating out from a central point.
American Rogaland - Very similar to Norwegian Rogaland and is very precise and symmetrical. Rigid mirror-like quality.
Valdres - often painted in blue tones with stylized landscapes, folded flowers or larger flowers in clusters hanging on ropes.
Gudbrandsdalen - closely resembles woodcarving with elegant intertwining scrolls.
OS - Only style painted on a pure white background.
Norway Hall Rosemaling:
The styles of Rosemaling at Norway Hall are as follows:
From the east (kitchen) end of the hall looking toward the west (stage)
#1 - Telemarken
#2 - Tuddal
#3 - Hallingdal
#4 - Valdres & Gulbransdalen
#5 - Sogn & Fjordane
From the west (stage) toward the east (kitchen)
#1 - Romsdal
#2 - Setesdal
#3 - Akershus & Vestfold