Skip to content


Seeking art by Ambrosia Tønnesen

Et utsnitt av et foto i sort-hvitt med en kvinne som stolt står ved siden av en gigantisk skulptur av en mann.

Ambrosia Tønnesen poserer ved siden av J.C. Dahl som hun har modellert i leire, Paris 1901 (utsnitt).

In the autumn of 2024, Kode will honor the Norwegian sculptor Ambrosia Tønnesen with a major exhibition. However, there are some important works we would love to include in the project – perhaps you have seen them?

We are looking for eight statues, reliefs, and busts, including works that have not been seen since the exhibition at the Bergen Art Association in 1985.

One of Norway's very first professional sculptors, Ambrosia Tønnesen (1859–1948), achieved great success during her lifetime.

This autumn our great sculptor will be honored with an exhibition at Permanenten (opening September 6) and a new monument in the cityscape donated by the municipality of Bergen.

The work on the exhibition is well underway, led by curator and Tønnesen biographer Jorunn Veiteberg. Kode is now seeking eight works for the exhibition:

"We are sure that several of these works could be in Bergen or elsewhere in the country. It would be fantastic if someone came across them over the summer so that we can include them in the exhibition," says Veiteberg.

Some of the works we are looking for were likely made in multiple versions. If you have any of interest, please contact Kode at

Et eldre fotografi i sort-hvitt av en skulptur av en sovende kvinne

Ambrosia Tønnesen: «Tornerose» 1885. Terrakotta. Hennes første statuett

Et foto av en byste som viser en ung kvinne innsvøpt i et sjal.

Ambrosia Tønnesen: «Sneklokken». 1887. Gipsbyste. Ble loddet ut i Bergens Kunstforening i 1887.

En statue av en naken kvinne som støtter seg til en vase.

Ambrosia Tønnesen: «En badende kvinne» eller «En krabbe», 1890-tallet. Marmor- eller gipsstatuett

Et relieff av en eldre kvinne i profil.

Ambrosia Tønnesen: «Fr. Hanssen», 1886. Relieff i gips eller marmor. Var med på utstillingen i Bergens Kunstforening 1985.

Among the works we are seeking is Sleeping Beauty, Ambrosia Tønnesen's first free statuette. One version was raffled off at the Bergen Art Association in 1886, and another was raffled off at the Trondheim Art Association later:

"We know that one ended up with State Physician Thomas Bryn in Trondheim, but we don't know who owns it today. Additionally, she likely made several versions of the statuette, so it could be in multiple places," says Jorunn excitedly.

Another Tønnesen work raffled off at the art association the following year was the bust Snowdrop.

"It would be fantastic to display that one. Ambrosia was known from the start for her busts featuring young women as subjects. In 1985, several of these were included in a Tønnesen exhibition in Bergen, and I hope some of them can be found again before the opening," says Jorunn.

She also highlights the nude figures, such as the statuette Bathing Woman. Creating full-figure sculptures of people, not just busts, required studies of nude models. At that time, women did not have access to this type of instruction.

"Ambrosia found a private school in Paris in 1893 where women could work with nude models, but we only know her most accomplished nude figure from this period from photographs. We would love to include it in the exhibition!" says Jorunn.

En statue i bronse av en gutt

Ambrosia Tønnesen: «Den første skilling» eller «Skillingen», 1888/1895. Bronse. Var med på utstillingen i Bergens Kunstforening 1985.

En byste av en ung pike.

Byste av kvinne, ukjent år. Trolig malt gips. Var med på utstillingen i Bergen Kunstforening 1985.

En byste av en ung pike.

Ambrosia Tønnesen: Byste av ung pike, 1893. Malt gips eller terrakotta. Var med på utstillingen i Bergen Kunstforening 1985.

En byste av en ung pike.

Ambrosia Tønnesen: Byste av ung pike, 1895. Gips. Var med på utstillingen i Bergen Kunstforening 1985.

Still present in the City

Ambrosia Tønnesen was born in Ålesund and moved to Bergen at an early age, where she debuted as an artist in 1884. She then traveled to Copenhagen, Berlin, and Paris to develop her artistic skills.

Her career choice was highly unusual for a woman at the time. She was Norway's first female sculptor and achieved great artistic success, even though her contemporaries often perceived her as authoritative and "mannish" due to her modern demeanor.

Tønnesen received many commissions and frequently exhibited at the Salon in Paris. After spending over 20 years in the French capital, she returned to Bergen in 1910, where she lived until her death. In Norway, Tønnesen has left her mark with her numerous sculptures on pedestals—several hundred busts, reliefs, and gravestones by her are known.

Over 40 of her works adorn the cityscape of Bergen, including the Ole Bull statue at the National Theatre in Bergen, the enormous statue of J.C. Dahl on the facade of Permanenten, the bust of Amalie Skram at the Bergen Public Library, the Dorothe Engelbretsdatter relief on a monument near the Domkirken church, and the bust of Edvard Grieg in Grieghallen.

The upcoming exhibition at Kode will showcase a wide selection of Ambrosia Tønnesen's works in plaster, bronze, and marble.

More about the exhibition

Read more