Frederick Hans Haagensen (1877- 1943) The Midnight Sun

Frederick Hans Haagensen (1877- 1943) The Midnight Sun


Frederick Hans Haagensen was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire on September 23rd, 1877 to Norwegian parents. His father was a Norwegian ship owner and regularly allowed Haagensen to accompany him on trips between Grimsby and Norway. Haagensen’s affinity with nature and the sea can be traced back to these boyhood memories of roaming the surrounding rural land around the Humber estuary. His artistic training began seriously with tutelage in Florence and was further enhanced by extensive travelling from Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic to West Africa, Spain and Cuba.

His return to England saw him move to Chelsea where he worked and lived with his wife and child during the twenties and thirties. At this time he predominantly worked in oils, watercolours and charcoals, as well as beginning to produce and explore the medium of etching. Although Haagensen came to etching relatively late in life (he was forty-seven) his devotion to the medium was rewarded with exhibitions in New York, Boston and London. Additionally his etchings were bought by the British Museum and Manchester Art Gallery and also by private collectors. Haagensen was ultimately labelled as a painter-etcher, rewarding his success in this media.

The painter-etcher moved from Chelsea with his family after discovering an Old Dutch styled cottage named the ‘Trusses’ on a cycling holiday in Essex. For the last seven years of his life Haagensen lived in the pretty Essex village of Bradwell-Juxta-Mane until his death on the 14th of May 1943. He is buried at Bradwell’s ancient church, which is on the East-Anglian Coast


  • 1926, The Studio, Wellington Street, Chelsea, London [By private invitation];
  • 1928-9, The Kew Gallery, America;1929, The Shervee Gallery, Boston, America; Abbey Gallery, London; 14 Great Stanhope Street, London;
  • 1972, The Minories, Colchester, Essex; The Galeria, Maldon, Essex;
  • 1974, The Little Baddow Hall Arts Centre, Essex;
  • 1976, P.S Tattershall Castle Art Gallery, London;
  • 1977, Beercroft Gallery, Southend-on-sea, Essex; Loughton House Gallery, London; Olso, Kunstforenning, Norway; Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, Yorkshire; Grimsby Art Gallery, Lincolnshire


In the The Midnight Sun we can see the artists obvious attachment to nature and the sea in particular. We may also view this ink on paper landscape with the same qualities as Haagensens more recognized etchings. The clear and definable lines made by the artists ink strokes dramatises both the physical elements of the landscape, as well as its negative spaces. The large black sliver of land, which extends outwards into the sea and the kinetic lines of the sky both come to an end at the point of an untouched part of the canvas. This negative space draws the viewer’s eye in the same way that a setting sun would do in reality. The hue of this white sun creeps over the land until the sky, with its strong deep lines gets darker and darker as it draws closer to the edge of the composition. Below the land, Haagensen uses dark cross hatching to emphasize this setting sun. The way that this shading extends further toward the viewer suggests that what we are viewing is actually a natural harbour, with a floating buoy enclosing the setting sun on the other side of the canvas. Haagensens study clearly involves the audience within the dusky landscape and communicates his own feelings towards it.


Haagensen, (LYC Museum Banks, Brampton Cumbria, 1978)

Catalogue: Frederick Hans 1877-1943, (The Butterfly Press, Malden Essex, 1976

Cassandra Cunningham