Kinsarvik was one of the leading exponents in the revival of Norwegian decorative arts around 1900. A specialist in woodcarving, from the 1880s on he helped define a national Norwegian style called the “Dragon style” or “Viking style”.
This revived the local medieval art, the decorations of ancient churches and pre-Christian iconography. At the end of the 19th century, Norway tried to liberate itself from Swedish rule, and so the development of a national style also indicated a political commitment, and the Museum of Decorative Arts, founded in 1876, played an important role in the dissemination of this style.
Kinsarvik taught woodcarving at Hardanger and at the School of Applied Arts in Oslo, and was editor in chief of Gamall norsk prydkunst, a decorative arts magazine, which published lists of motifs from the Norwegian tradition.
His work was acclaimed internationally, particularly when he exhibited at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris in 1889 and 1900, where he represented Norway alongside several compatriots. Furthermore, he received the bronze medal at the 1900 exhibition.
The polychromy seen here, with its range of blues and greens enhanced with touches of orange, is characteristic of the artist’s work. The carved and painted décor appears on all the surfaces of the cabinet: we find dragons, friezes of mythological masks, characters from Norwegian legends and traditionally inspired geometric motifs...
The richness and quality of the decorative work here makes this cabinet a spectacular example of Norwegian Art Nouveau, which developed at the turn of the 20th century.