Astruptunet Astruptunet
Engel og Nikolai Astrup i Astruptunet ca. 1925.

About Astruptunet



Sandalstrand, now better known as Astruptunet, was Nikolai Astrup’s home for 15 years. The artist bought the old homestead in September of 1912, primarily for the land. However, following a dispute with the owners of Myklebust, their home at the time, he decided to move to Sandalstrand in January of 1913. 

In 1912, the farmstead, situated on a steep hillside, was in a sorry state. There was no access road, the buildings were dilapidated, and the steep slopes brought frequent minor landslides. Astrup nevertheless chose the place as a future home for himself and his growing family. In the following years, he built a road, a new shed, several new houses and a studio, and he started cultivating the garden. The steep hill was sectioned and levelled into peat terraces, with what Astrup called green walls. On them he grew vegetables, berry bushes, fruit trees and rhubarb. He called rhubarb the «grape of the north», and became particularly well known in the village for his rhubarb wine. In addition to growing useful plants, he also explored the wealth of plants through breeding and grafting. The garden had both braided birches and pollarded trees resembling troll figures. However, according to him, all this experimentation became more of a «vice».

Astrup eventually created a beautiful homestead, and in the 1920s he started to feel satisfied with his work. When artist Ludvig Ravensberg and writer Hans E. Kinck visited Sandalstrand in 1922, they were amazed:

Astrup, this peculiar man, has created everything in this place. He built the houses, bred and shaped the plants, constructed the plateaus, wrestled with nature, built stone grottos and terraces. Here, he is a carpenter, farmer, outdoorsman and artist. Kinck and I walk around in pure amazement. (Ravensberg, 12.07.1922). 

In the 1920s, the new Sandalstrand home also became a central motif in his art. Through 24 paintings (5 still lifes and 19 landscapes), and two woodcuts recreated in various versions, we are offered a panoramic view of Astrup’s perhaps most comprehensive work – Astruptunet. 

The Collection

Nikolai’s wife, Engel Astrup, lived at Sandalstrand until she passed away in 1966. She sold the complex to the Jølster Municipality in 1965, with the deal including all objects and artworks at the homestead. The municipality committed to "maintain Astruptunet – the property, buildings and everything else included in the deal", emphasising that the interiors be preserved as they appeared when Nikolai Astrup was alive – "as far as possible". Engel Astrup had run the homestead like a museum of sorts since the 1930s. For instance, when the main building was rebuilt in the 30s, she had a new stairway installed, providing visitors with access to the artist studio.

The sales agreement also included the unique collection of Astrup’s woodblocks. Since it was officially opened in 1986, the Astruptunet museum has received several generous gifts and loans from the Astrup family, Gjensidige, Sparebanken Sogn og Fjordane, Sunnfjordlaget i Bergen and several private collectors. In 1991, 51 works from the former Reksten collection were bought via the Sogn og Fjordane County Municipality. This included the work June at 3 AM, made using both painting and woodcut techniques. In addition to this, the museum contains several textile works, including two flag banners painted by Nikolai Astrup and eight woven tapestries based on the artist’s designs. The collection also includes printing equipment and a selection of Engel Astrup’s textile art – an innovative body of work based on traditional wood carving methods.

Written by

Tove Kårstad Haugsbø, senior conservator
Nikolai Astrup Research Centre for Art and Landscape at KODE Bergen.