Mother and Child by the Sea

Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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A mother and child welcome home a fishing boat, presumably containing the child’s father. The combination of the magical light effect and the fact that so much remains hidden encourages different interpretations. Dahl’s father was a fisherman in Norway and so perhaps we are looking at a childhood memory of loss and reconciliation. Then again, 1840 saw the death of Dahl’s mentor and friend the German romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. The landscape may therefore have been painted as an homage to Friedrich, using elements taken from his works.

Mother and Child by the Sea




oil on canvas


H 21 x W 31 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased with assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Resource/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the R. D. Turner Charitable Trust, 2002

Work type


Inscription description

Signed and dated: J Dahl 1840


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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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