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A Virtual Tour of Polhøgda

Polhøgda was the home of famous Norwegian polar explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). Since 1958, it houses the Fridtjof Nansen Institute. Below is a small collection of sights and objects at Polhøgda.
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> Exterior photographs
> Interior photographs
> Dining Room wall paintings
> The early Nansen: Polar explorer and scientist
> Nansen's wives
> Later years: Diplomat and humanist


EXTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHS


Polhøgda

Polhøgda in summer

Construction of the Nansen family's new home at Polhøgda started in April 1900. In August 1901 the house was finished, and Fridtjof Nansen moved in with his pregnant wife and three children.

Nansen had drawn the construction plans himself, with the professional assistance of architect Hjalmar Welhaven. Nansen wanted his new house erected in a kind of "Norwegian castle style, in stone". Changes along the way made the plans less castle-like, however, and more inspired by Lawnhurst, the home of his friend Henry Simon near Manchester in England. By giving Polhøgda a touch of English 'mansion', Nansen got a representative and stately home with room for entertaining.

Externally the mansion is reminiscent of the early Italian renaissance, whereas the shape of the windows and the tower draw our thoughts to medieval Romantic churches and castles.


Polhøgda

Polhøgda in winter

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Polhøgda

Polhøgda in spring

Polhøgda

Courtyard side

With main entrance.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen's grave




Fridtjof Nansen's grave

Fridtjof Nansen died at home, on 13 May 1930, while enjoying the spring sun on the balcony seen in background of this photo.

Before his death, Nansen had clearly expressed that he did not wish a church burial. He wanted to be buried in the garden, under "my good birch tree", as he is reported to have put it. In the early 1930s, private burials were not allowed in Norway, and it took the Nansen family and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences six years to obtain permission to establish a private tomb for the late national hero.

Fridtjof Nansen's son, the architect Odd Nansen, had prepared a plan for the tomb which was approved by the authorities. In the spring of 1937 the urn containing Nansen's ashes was finally moved to the new tomb, on the slope to the south of the house, and interred there with a simple ceremony.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHS


Polhøgda

Ground floor living room

The English mansion style is evident in the large central hall, in two storeys with a gallery and an open fireplace.

Here, there were frequent parties, large and small, for relatives and close friends. Eva Nansen's in-house recitals were famous.

Almost all the furnishings, paintings etc. at Polhøgda today have been acquired after the Second World War.

Photo: Maryanne Rygg

Polhøgda

Upstairs

In Nansen's time, there were bedrooms all along the gallery. Today, they provide office space for researchers and staff of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

Photo: Maryanne Rygg

Polhøgda

Dining Room

With Erik Werenskiold's wall paintings illustrating the Norwegian folk song "Liti Kjersti". (Detailed photographs of the wall painting are found below.)

Photo: Maryanne Rygg

'The Ladies' Salon' Polhøgda

Ladies' Drawing Room

With Erik Werenskiold's portrait of Fridtjof Nansen.

Photo: Maryanne Rygg

Fridtjof Nansen's study room, Polhøgda

Fridtjof Nansen's study room

The study room is situated in the tower, with a beautiful view of Fornebu and the Oslo Fjord. When Nansen was at work there, there were standing orders not to disturb him. The room has been preserved basically as it was when he passed away in 1930.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen




DINING ROOM WALL PAINTINGS


Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda

Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda

Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda   Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda   Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda   Erik Werenskiold, "Liti Kjersti", Polhøgda

The dining room is light and festive, in part thanks to Erik Werenskiold's wall paintings (1904-1907), illustrating the Norwegian folk song "Liti Kjersti". This folk song tells of little Kjersti who is seduced by the Elf King, gives birth to his children, is spellbound and then drinks the "drink of forgetfulness", thus losing all memory of her previous life.

Photos: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen




THE EARLY NANSEN: POLAR EXPLORER AND SCIENTIST


Fridtjof Nansen portrait by L. Szacinski

Portrait, 1889

By L. Szacinski, Christiania's leading photographer at the time and photographer to the Royal Court. It was only natural that he should also be photographer to the Nansen family.

The large portrait hanging at Polhøgda is dated 1896, but was actually taken in 1889, upon Nansen's return from Greenland.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen


Fridtjof Nansen portrait by Erik Werenskiold

Portrait, 1893

Nansen ready for his great North Pole expedition.

Drawing by Nansen's life-long friend Erik Werenskiold.

Photocopy: Børre Høstland. © The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design


Fram expedition shoes and knife. Photo: Jan D. Sørensen

Fram expedition

Nansen's boots and knife, used during the 1893–96 Fram expedition in the Arctic Sea. The boots are on loan from the Fram Museum, the knife has been donated by Norwegian actor Knut Wigert, who portrayed Nansen in a 1968 movie.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen


Fristjof Nansen onboard Sir George Baden-Powell's yacht Otaria

Return from the Arctic

After his miraculous rescue in 1896, Nansen travelled down the Norwegian coast, receiving a hero's welcome at every port. Here he is seen on board Sir George Baden-Powell's yacht Otaria, heading south towards Tromsø. Nansen's wife Eva has come north to join him.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen


The heroes of Fram

The heroes of Fram

A memorial plaque to the participants of the Norwegian North Pole Expedition 1893–1896.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen portrait by Henry van der Weyde

Portrait, 1897

By London photographer Henry van der Weyde, taken in 1897, a few months after the return of the Fram expedition.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Bathymetrical Chart of Northern Polar Seas, by Fridtjof Nansen

Bathymetrical Chart of Northern Polar Seas

by Dr Fridtjof Nansen

Throughout the Fram expedition, Nansen kept the crew busy carrying out scientific measurements, including ocean depth soundings. This bathymetrical map of the Arctic Ocean was one of many scientific results published after their return.

Fram's progress through the Kara Sea. Preliminary map by Fridtjof Nansen

Scientific work

Nansen spent years going through the scientific results of the Fram expedition, before publishing them in the 6-volume The Norwegian North Polar Expedition 1893-1896: Scientific results edited by Fridtjof Nansen, issued 1900-1906. This map showing Fram's progress through the Kara Sea is one of several preliminary versions, with numerous handwritten corrections and comments by Nansen.




NANSEN'S WIVES


Eva Nansen

Eva Nansen

Fridtjof Nansen married Eva Sars in 1889, and they had five children together. She was a gifted opera singer as well as a pioneer of female skiing. Her early death in 1907 was a hard blow to Nansen.

This photograph was taken in Stockholm in 1895, during Eva's last concert tour. Fridtjof Nansen kept it in his study room, where it can still be seen today.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen
Sigrun Nansen, by Fridtjof Nansen
Sigrun Nansen

Sigrun Munthe became Fridtjof Nansens second wife in 1919, but spent many unhappy and lonely days at Polhøgda while her husband travelled widely on humanitarian and diplomatic missions.

It is believed that Nansen and Sigrun had been romantically involved even before the death of Eva Nansen. This lithograph was drawn by Nansen himself, probably around 1905.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen



LATER YEARS: DIPLOMAT AND HUMANIST


Fridtjof Nansen's ambassador's uniform

Ambassador

After Norway became independent of Sweden in 1905, Nansen became Norway's first envoy to the United Kingdom, living in London from 1906 to 1908.

His ambassador's uniform is still preserved at Polhøgda.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen
Nansen passport

The Nansen Passport

In 1921, Nansen devised the Nansen Passport, an identy card for stateless refugees. The document was recognized by many European states, and helped hundreds of thousands of stateless people to immigrate to a country willing to receive them.

This specimen was issued by Bulgarian authorities in 1928 to Russian refugee Pavel Kiprianovitch Kastorny, and enabled him to travel to France to start a new life there.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen, map of Spitsbergen

Map of Spitsbergen

Also in his later years, Nansen never lost his interest in the North and in science. He drew this artistic map of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) for his much delayed book A Journey to Spitsbergen in 1920. With hand-written pencil notes.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen receives Nobel Peace Prize, Mortenbladet

Nobel Peace Prize

"Peace Prize awarded to Fridtjof Nansen. He will use it for international relief efforts. 'The next war will be the doom of Europe'."

Morgenbladet (Oslo), 11 December 1922

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof nansen, self portrait with Christmas greeting, 1924

Self-portrait, Christmas 1924

"To John Gorovin(?)
with hearty good wishes for 1925, in gratitude for his wholehearted and valuable colaboration in passed years
from Fridtjof Nansen"


Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen portrait by Erik Werenskiold

Portrait

Painted by Nansen's friend and neighbour, the painter Erik Werenskiold, in 1938, eight years after Nansen's death.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen portrait by Erik Werenskiold

Portrait

By Erik Werenskiold, around 1924.

This drawing was discovered in the attic in the 1980s, and is probably the only Nansen portrait that has been kept at Polhøgda permanently since Nansen's days.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen portrait by Dagfin Werenskiold

Portrait

By Dagfin Werenskiold, son of Erik Werenskiold, probably in 1924.

Photo: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen, Self portrait, 1930

Self-portrait, 1930

Lithograph, 1930. Authenticity attested by Fridtjof Nansen's son Odd Nansen.

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

Fridtjof Nansen dies, Aftenposten

Nansen is dead

"Professor Fridtjof Nansen suddenly passed away today at noon due to heart failure in his home at Lysaker"

Aftenposten (Oslo), 13 May 1930

Photocopy: Jan Dalsgaard Sørensen

All photographs may be reproduced freely on the condition that the Fridtjof Nansen Institute and the photographer's name are credited.


Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (+@fni.no)