Considered the father of Norwegian landscape painting, the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl was, along with Caspar David Friedrich, one of the leading figures of Romanticism in Dresden.
Against the backdrop of a towering range of mountains with snowy peaks and slopes, a heavy storm rages over the water surface of a fjord in the 1847 painting Shipwreck on the Coast of Finnmark. The gloomy atmosphere is reinforced by the very dark cloud cover and the dense fog bank in front of the mountain sides. Some waves are mounting frighteningly high and wash around low riffs sticking out of the water. In the midst of this rough nature a ship has hit a rock from which a number of people were able to escape onto a lifeboat. With the nature imagery of his dramatic Norwegian landscape paintings Dahl set himself apart from the sentimentally romantic paintings of his day. Many of his works are based on small-scale oil sketches painted on site, making him an early plein air painter. An important model for him was the Dutch painter Allaert van Everdingen who, as early as the seventeenth century, had captured the landscape of southern Norway in his paintings. Dahl drew on his realistic manner and was soon dubbed the ‘new Everdingen’.