Kittelsen’s Nix in the Depths of the Lake
Welcome to the depths of the lake — to the home of the Nix. The Nix is sly. He hunts for humans. In the depths of the forest lake, the Nix lives by his lonesome, and every once in a while he transforms into a white horse to lure us onto his back — and deep down underwater.
Theodor Kittelsen’s ‘Nøkken’ (‘The Nix’) is an exhibition highlight as the Kittelsen Museum at the Cobalt Mines celebrates its 25th anniversary. The museum entrance has been redesigned to invite the public down into the cellar — into the depths —in order to experience the sinister and wicked Nøkken, depicted in several illustrations. The frightening tales of the Nix may have developed over centuries as a way to help prevent drowning and an eerie explanation for deaths that had already occurred.
Tales of the water trolls, the water spirits Fossegrim and Nøkken, and the enormous sea worms by Andreas Faye, inspired Kittelsen to illustrate and publish ‘Troldskab’ in 1892. This included his iconic imagery of the Nix in a lake surrounded by water lilies and gazing straight at us with his bright yellow eyes. In the exhibition we also see the Nix as he waits in the depths of the lake for innocent passersby to reach down into the water so he can grab them with his slimy hands.
The story of the Kittelsen Museum began in 1987 when Nanna and Helge Theodor Kittelsen contacted the Cobalt Mines and Works, in hopes of building a permanent museum for their father’s work. In return, they donated a number of artifacts that remained in the family’s possession, such as original wood-carved chairs, a cabinet, writing table, wastepaper basket, and friezes.
King Harald V officially opened the Kittelsen Museum at the Cobalt Mines six years later, on May 21, 1993. Ever since, the Cobalt Works and Mines has focused on expanding its Kittelsen collection with oil paintings, watercolors and drawings. Today the museum houses many of Kittelsen’s important works and masterpieces, such as ‘Bergtrold’ (‘Mountain Troll’), ‘Når aspen blør’ (When the Aspen Bleeds? or Blows’?), ‘Trollene på vei til Soria Moria Slot’ (Trolls on Their Way to Soria Maria Castle’), and ‘Dompap’ (Bullfinch’).