In the years 1882–85, Christian Krohg acted as mentor to a number of young artists in Christiania, and in this painting a group of them have gathered in Krohg’s studio. Edvard Munch has withdrawn into a corner and is lighting a cigarette, the actress Constance Bruun, in a blue dress and white shawl, sits with her back to us, and Oda Krohg is stretched sensuously out on a chaise longue and giving all her attention to the actor and sculptor Kalle Løchen. Løchen’s slim figure, hands in pockets and a cigarette dangling from his mouth, dominates the scene, and Oda’s fan, painted as flecks of colour, is at the centre of the composition. The group of figures forms a triangle that is counterpointed by the triangle of the brightly coloured rug hanging over the back of the chair, the red and yellow Chinese parasol dominating the upper part of the painting, and the red, blue and yellow stripes of the deck chair in the lower right corner.
The work shows that Krohg has mastered the harmony of classical composition, but he is also obviously aware of the radical contemporary approach that demanded an arbitrary definition of the subject and derived inspiration from oriental art. The parasol and the deck chair refer to the contemporary practice of choosing outdoor subjects and of painting in the open air. For these artists the studio was just as much a social meeting place for discussions on matters of art and politics as a workshop.
Øyvind Storm Bjerke