Mountain Milk by Jóhannes S. Kjarval on view at Kjarvalsstaðir
Mountain Milk is one of Kjarval’s best known works and it depicts the landscape at Þingvellir where the painter often sought his inspiration. The work shows Flosagjá chasm with Mt. Ármannsfell in the background. Kjarval made a rough charcoal sketch on the canvas at Þingvellir and then finished the painting in his studio on Austurstræti in Reykjavík.
Kjarval’s nephew owned the painting before Ragnar Jónsson, a prominent art patron acquired it later on. In 1961 Ragnar Jónsson donated his art collection to the ASÍ Art Museum, which laid the foundation for that institution. The story goes that Alfred H. Barr, the first museum director of the MoMa in New York was very impressed by the work and offered to buy it. However, Ragnar Jónsson could not imagine selling the painting and having it overseas, he therefore turned down the proposition.