The book, Rønnaug Petterssen - The artist and her Dolls, is about a remarkable woman who became one of Norway’s leading creators of Norwegian costumed dolls. Her career spanned nearly 4 decades, from the early 1930 and well into the late 1970ties. The book is based on personal letters, articles, catalogs, biographical materials, business documents, recollections of family, friends and others who knew her. It is also based on large numbers of photographs, both personal and professional, from early in her life till the end and finally also on the many dolls she left the family. The biographical information about Rønnaug Petterssen have over the years perpetuated errors and myths. While these sometimes have been small errors, that have grown in the absence of information, we are in the book going to correct them. We will also be adding information that has never been published, so a more complete picture of this accomplished artist can be formed.
Petterssen experienced considerable success from the start of what became her career and despite the difficult war years, she pulled herself up by the proverbial bootstraps and built on the early success she had had and went on to become well known internationally. By the closing of the workshop she had exhibited widely in Norway and abroad and won a string of awards. Aslaug Kvernberg, Editor of Norsk Husflid (Norwegian Handcrafts) in an article for Norwegian American Commerce (Winter 1973) says:“Norway has a cultural tradition in dolls thanks to one person in particular”, Rønnaug Petterssen. Her dolls are like small works of art, enchanting miniature people, who are so much alive that young and old alike can’t resist being fascinated by them ”. It is this uniqueness that Petterssen's dolls exude that has given the dolls such staying power and made them a valuable collectors item today, nearly thirty years after her death.
Petterssen made from the start a choice to make national costumed dolls and she right away also set out to study costumes from the sources that were available and was able to decide what made each costume unique. In fact this is what was so admired later. However, during the early years she also experimented with many styles and themes and ways to express these. Photographs will show examples of dolls, few now know she ever made. But the delight in experimentation can also be seen in the wide variety of dolls she created over the course of her career after the war. She was interested in folklore and story and borrowed themes from that.
The book has been broken down into three sections, so the reader can access the information most central to their interest in Rønnaug Petterssen’s work. For many this book may simply serve as a reference guide, to locate the dolls they have collected or wish to buy, within the range of dolls she produced, for others there will be an interest in her life, as well as her work or just the life at the workshop. This will be possible with detailed photographs. She lived and worked though some interesting times, both in Norway and in the places she was to visit.
For those solely interested in her doll production, we hope that the book will aid them in verifying with some degree of certainty the authenticity of a doll, when it may have been produced, and therefore give some idea of value. In the section about the production we also strive to give as accurate a timeline for the production of each of the dolls she made and a description of the dolls which should help the reader to with the authentication of the dolls they own.
We have taken great care to base her story in facts and to document events. We hope the book will shed light on this remarkable woman, her life and career, perhaps even on the times she lived in and be of value to the reader.
".... One must however here underline that Rønnaug Petterssen's dolls with their artistic form and their absolutely correct rendition of the national costumes are suited to increase the interest in our old costumes, as well as show that this adherence to correct form can be captured also in this small format. ...."
National Association of Folk Academies, Norway, May, 1973