Thursday, 7 August 2014

Norroway Over The Foam

Recently, I stumbled across this queer little travel account of Norway from the Peeps at Many Lands series. I found it in the second hand bookshop hidden away in the Lanhydrock stable block. I was attracted by the Norway connection and pulled it out not expecting much. However, I was charmed by the cover, so I flicked through and discovered that there were lots of illustrated plates among some entertainingly colonial prose by A.F. Mockler-Ferryman. The landscapes are more skilfully drawn but there’s something strangely crude and engrossing in the pictures of people.
 They're by Nico Jungman who was a popular Anglo-Dutch painter at the turn of the 19th/20th Century. He was also involved in another book called Norway, a longer work written by his wife Beatrice and illustrated by himself. There’s a wonderful image of Jungman painting in the first chapter. This paragraph encapsulates a brilliant reflection of adoration and irony for her artist husband. 

"In Trondhjem it rained all day and all night, and the inhabitants cheerfully told us that it was always so. Nico, however, painted in the rain, enveloped in mackintoshes and encompassed by umbrellas, and was much disgusted to find that he attracted no attention at all. Accustomed as I am to be an object of inquisitive interest to the inhabitants of small Dutch towns, I was rather relieved to be taken so absolutely for granted in Norway, in spots unfrequented even by ardent fishermen."*

I’d love to find a copy. Both books are available at Project Gutenberg with all the illustrations.

These are a handful of my favourite Jungman illustrations. They’re strange works, relying heavily on the contemporary trend of Volks art.  I think the writing and the art offer an interesting insight into the outsider dilemma that people documenting foreign lands face. How do you avoid cliché and generalisation when looking, so briefly, into the snow globe?  

*Norway, Beatrice Jungman, 1905, Project Gutenberg