Fritz Thaulow was the brother of Mette, who married Paul Gauguin. He was a pupil at the Kunstakademi in Christiania, and then in C.F. Sørensen's studio at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen. While he was still quite young, he left Scandinavia to go to Karlsruhe, where he studied with Hans Gude. He then settled in France. In Paris, he integrated perfectly into French artistic circles, befriending J.C. Cazin, Roll, Lhermitte and Carolus-Duran, who was one of the founders of the Salon du Champ de Mars, which then became known as the Nationale. Jacques-Émile Blanche executed a magnificent painting of Thaulow at work in the company of his family. He also became friends with Claude Monet and Rodin, exchanging work with them, and introduced Rodin to the Scandinavian artists in Paris. He maintained a studio in Dieppe for many years, and it was sold on 3 May 1907.
Thaulow participated in collective exhibitions in Munich, Berlin and in Paris, at the Salon des Artistes Français. He also exhibited at the Salon du Champ de Mars from 1890. He received a variety of distinctions and awards, including an honourable mention in Berlin in 1886; a medal in Munich in 1890; a medal in Vienna in 1894; and the grand prize at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. He was named a member of the Jury International des Beaux-Arts at the 1889 Exposition Universelle, and a member of the Kunstakademi in Munich in 1890. He was also promoted to Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1889, and to officer in 1901.
Thaulow had an unusual and diversified vision. His first works depict memories from his native Norway. From 1892, however, he painted exclusively French landscapes. He excelled in views of canals, riverbanks and small villages lit by moonlight or buried in the snow.
However, Thaulow found his aesthetic direction in the Impressionist milieu, and showed foresight in 1882 by understanding and embracing the controversial new school of painting. He did not adopt the new school's methods, so much as scrupulously study its atmosphere. Thus, whether he was in Paris, Normandy, Artois, or in Holland or Italy, his landscapes of sun or snow always revealed a perfectly observed realism. He was influenced by Claude Monet in his decision to paint almost exclusively in watercolours. He depicted both calm and troubled seas, mere streams or torrents, lakes, rivers and old mills, and established himself as a faithful narrator.
He was included in the exhibition From Dahl to Munch: Romanticism, Realism and Symbolism in Norwegian Landscape Painting (Da Dahl a Munch. Romanticismo, realismo e simbolismo nella pittura di paesaggio norvegese) held at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrarar. An exhibition was dedicated to his work at the Musée Rodin in Paris in 1994.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Bergen: Winter Landscape; The Beach at Jæderen
Berlin: November Day in Normandy
Brussels: The Old Bridge
Buffalo: Night on a Dutch Canal
Copenhagen (Statens Mus. for Kunst): The American Mill
Dieppe: The River in Manéhouville Near Dieppe
Göteborg: In Kragerø; Norwegian Mountain; Two Winter Landscapes
Halle: Mill in Normandy
Hamburg: The Frozen Customs Canal; Bench in the Snow
Leipzig: The Blue Factory
Munich: Midnight in February in Norway
Oslo: Street in Kragerö; Houg Waterfall in Modum; Night in Amiens; Square in Cordoue (21 studies)
Oslo (Nasjonalgal.): Winter (1886, oil on canvas); Midnight in Amiens (c. 1887, oil on canvas); Volendam Canal in Holland (1906, oil on canvas)
Paris (Mus. du Petit Palais): Norwegian Village
Paris (Mus. Rodin): View of a Small Village
Philadelphia: Norwegian Sun
Portland (MA): Untitled (Landscape) (c. 1897)
Rouen: The Old Factory
San Francisco: By the Arques
St Louis: Behind the Mills; In March
Stockholm: January Day in Norway; French Landscape in Moonlight
Strasbourg: Canal in an Old City
Stuttgart: Moonlight in Normandy
Venice: Small River in Normandy
Worcester: Winter in Norway