Thursday, January 31, 2013


Rosemaled Trunk by Marjory Johnson Wood
Rosemåling, or decorative painting, is a Norwegian folk art form that arose in the mid-eighteenth century.  also exists in Sweden, where it is called kurbitsmålning. Inspired by European Baroque and Rococo art styles, it utilizes floral and flowing designs as well as an array of colors. It is commonly found on pots, pans, and trunks, among other things.

I've seen rosemåling on many of my grandma's pots and pans over the years. Although I found it pretty, I never regarded it as anything special. Upon further research, I've learned that I was wrong and that it once played a significant role in Norwegian morale.

When the Nazis occupied Norway in World War II, it was illegal to display a Norwegian flag or State Coat of Arms (the punishment was imprisonment or, occasionally, death). To combat this control, some Norwegians would paint hidden characters into their rosemåling. Often, these took the form of the letter "H" and the number "7," which paid respect to the exiled Norwegian king, Haakon VII. This way, the Germans could not see the letters, but the Norwegians knew they were there; they were symbols of Norwegian patriotism and hope in the face of subjugation.
Nowadays, rosemåling more commonly plays a purely decorative role. After resurfacing as a respected art form in the 20th century, rosemåled pieces have become more popular throughout the world. Museums and art studios across the country now offer rosemåling classes, where students can learn to paint in the old art form and create new pieces that reflect rosemåling's unique history.


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