Arts and Gardens

Agnes Hiort: Erik Waaler, 1960

Erik Waaler (1903-1997) was one of two professors in medicine appointed when the University of Bergen was established, and he became the first Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

Agnes Hiort: Portrett av Erik Waaler, 1960
Agnes Hiort: Portrett av Erik Waaler, 1960
Alf E. Andresen

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When Bjørn Trumpy retired, Waaler became the second Rector of the University of Bergen, and sat in office from 1954 to 1959. Waaler is best known for the discovery of a factor in the blood of rheumatics, which laid the foundation for the development of a new diagnostic test, called the Waaler-Rose's test. He was a driving force in the establishment of dental education in Bergen, and in the development of the preclinical institutes at the University. Waaler was made an Officer of the Order of St. Olav in 1959, and promoted to Commander in 1973. In 1964 he received the Fridtjof Nansen Award from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

In this portrait by Agnes Hiort, Waaler is facing almost straight forward, but with his head tilted slightly to one side so we see the face in almost three-quarters profile. He looks free and relaxed, with his right hand held elegantly in front of his stomach. He is wearing the Rector’s robe. The color contrasts with the blue and white background, which in the right corner is overcome by red tones much brighter than those of the cloak.

Agnes Hiort (1899-1984) worked primarily as a portrait painter. She painted several portraits of the royal family, and of famous art personalities such as Fartein Valen and Nini Roll Anker. Early in her career she mostly made landscape paintings and pictures with religious motifs, but when she started getting more commissions, they were almost exclusively portraits. Hiort-painted in a soft, harmonious color palette, but still with a wide specter and a sense for color. Her strokes are loose, but the presentation of the portrayed character is pronounced. Although she captured people’s character, she never tipped over into caricature. She had too finely tuned an understanding of human nature for that.