Julius Olavus Middelthun (1820 - 1885)

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Birthplace: Kongsberg, Buskerud, Norway
Death: Died in Oslo, Norway
Managed by: Øystein Middelthun
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About Julius Olavus Middelthun

Norwegian sculptor. He worked first as an apprentice goldsmith in Christiania, and then studied under Herman Wilhelm Bissen from 1840 to 1851 at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen. Here he adopted a conservative, late classical style, inspired by the art and literature of Denmark's golden age. He lived in Rome between 1851 and 1860 and became familiar with the works of Classical and Renaissance masters. This experience increased his self-doubt, and he later became harshly self-critical. A font reflecting his admiration for Berthel Thorvaldsen is Middelthun's only great work from this period (plaster, 1859; marble, 1865; Oslo, Trefoldighetskirken). He returned to Norway in 1860 and executed a series of busts, which established him as Norway's leading portrait sculptor. His bust of the poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven (plaster, 1861; Oslo, Ubib.; marble, 1865; Oslo, N.G.), one of the most important examples of Norwegian portrait sculpture, is herm-like in form and, with its sense of classical balance and harmony, embodies the poet's ideals. Middelthun's later head-and-shoulders bust of the composer Halfdan Kjerulf in contemporary dress (bronze, 1871-4), in the Kjerulfs plass, Oslo, reveals a greater attention to form and detail. Middelthun worked very slowly; his bronze statue of the historian Anton Martin Schweigaard (1870-83, U. Oslo) is regarded as his greatest work, but it is also the only one of his larger sculptures that he managed to complete. Middelthun taught at Christiania's Kongelige Tegneskole from 1869 to 1886, where one of his students was Edvard Munch. He was made a knight of the Order of St Olav in 1883.

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Julius Olavus Middelthun's Timeline

July 3, 1820
Kongsberg, Buskerud, Norway
May 5, 1885
Age 64
Oslo, Norway