Norwegian-born artist Siguard Skou captures scenes of France

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

To mark the special exhibition Landscapes & Legends of Norway: William Singer & His Contemporaries (on view through Sept. 17), we hope that you enjoy this painting in our collection. If you visit the museum, this work is on view in the exhibition.

Siguard Skou

Siguard Skou (American, b. Norway, 1875–1929)
Cloudy Coast, Brittany, 1922
Oil on canvas
29.938″h x 36″w
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of Anna & William Singer, A0002,31.0006

Siguard Skou enjoyed painting at Concarneau, located on the southern coast of Brittany in western France. Like William Singer (1868–1943) and Walter Griffin (1861–1935), other artists featured in the exhibition. Skou worked in an Impressionist style and tended to use drops and swaths of color to build up his compositions. This seascape reflects Skou’s fascination with the rugged, imposing rocks and rough surf that he observed. In the foreground, waves crash against the boulders, creating large areas of grayish-white foam that complement the expansive, cloud-filled sky above. Cloudy Coast, Brittany was also part of the Singers’ founding gift of 100 artworks, which they donated to the museum in 1931.

Skou was born in Frederikshald, Norway, and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling there permanently, as did his contemporary, Martin Borgord (1869–1935). Prior to his departure, Skou had been exposed to the work of modern painters, having studied under Anders Zorn (1860–1920) in Stockholm and Charlotte Christiane von Krogh (1827–1913) in Paris. When Skou came to America in 1893, he first found work as an illustrator in Chicago, where he later showed his paintings at the Norwegian-American exhibitions of the 1920s. Apart from these activities, Skou worked as an artist and journalist for the New York Herald and New York World during the Spanish American War (1898) and the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12). In addition, Skou began exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Academy of Design, New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. Over the course of his career, Skou became best known for his portraits of fishermen, seascapes, still lifes, and nudes.

This WeekendArt is sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. Robert K. Hobbs