Construction of Verrazzono-Narrows Bridge, Bernhard Berntsen - Fine Arts
  • Date 1963
  • Place of Origin Falls Church, Virginia
  • Creator Bernhard Berntsen

A note written by the artist states, “I lived near by and did several paintings of [the bridge] during the construction. Most of the Tran workers on this job belong to Local 361 in Brooklyn NY where I have now been a member for 50 years. I have 8 mm film from this job. You can imagine how I was feeling, seeing a ship with the Norwegian Flag aft, steaming out through the Narrows.  Probably heading for Norway and me homesick. Tears and Linseed Oil, don’t mix.”

An inscription on the back of the painting states, “Construction of Verrazzano Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY. For Vesterheim. Bernhard Berntsen 82.

Berntsen was born in Oslo in 1900. He worked as a galley boy on the S.S. Bergensfjord, signing off in New York City in 1919. He moved to Chicago and became involved with many of the city’s Norwegian-American organizations. Through these clubs, he dabbled in the arts. His profession was building scaffolding around skyscrapers to facilitate construction or repairs. In 1928 he moved to Brooklyn to join the Chrysler Building scaffolding crew.

Berntsen often sketched coworkers, or people that he saw on the street during his lunch break. He won a scholarship to study at the Art Students’ League and took evening classes from John Stuart Curry. Throughout his lifetime, Berntsen participated in many solo and group exhibitions, including a show in his hometown of Oslo in 1984. Berntsen died in 1992.

Vesterheim has more than 150 artworks by Bernhard Berntsen, mostly oil paintings and crayon drawings on newspaper.

  • Materials Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions height, 22 inches; width, 28 inches
  • Identifier / Source 1982.065.004 - Museum Purchase
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