L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Her own way - a selection of photographs by and of Marie Høeg, circa 1893-1903

Marie Høeg (15 April 1866, Langesund – 22 February 1949, Oslo), Norwegian photographer and suffragist. Her published work was traditional in nature, while her private photography challenged the gender roles of the time and, since its rediscovery, has garnered international attention. Born in Langesund, southwest of the capital, she trained as a photographer in nearby Brevik, completing her apprenticeship in 1890. She then moved to Finland and, while working as a photographer in both Ekenäs and Hanko, developed a strong connection with the Finnish women's rights movement.

"Trick photography" in the 1890s. A composite image.

While in Finland, she began what was to be a lifelong relationship with Bolette Berg (1872-1944). Berg, five years Høeg's junior, was also a trained photographer. And in 1895 the couple returned to Norway and, settling in Horten, established the Berg & Høeg photography studio. They used the studio not only for their business, but also as a meeting place for other women interested in feminism and the cause of women's suffrage. 

Høeg and Berg at home, with their dog Tuss.
With Tuss. (Three images.)
Another composite photograph.

Høeg was an extrovert and a driving force in the community. She started groups such as Den selskbelige Diskusjonsforening (The Social Discussion Association) - still in existence today - Horten Ledd av Landskvinnestemmerettforeningen - the LKSF - (the Horten Branch of the National Association for Women's Right to Vote), Horten Kvinneråd tilknyttet Norske Kvinners Nasjonalråd (the Horten Women's Council linked to the National Norwegian Women's Council), and Horten Tuberkuloseforening (the Horten Tuberculosis Association). Berg was more retiring, but must have been a very active participant, especially behind the camera, in the photographs that have since become so well known.

With friends. The pose is meant to be provocative, as sitting on the ground like this, drinking and playing cards, would be considered "unladylike."
At least one male friend was willing to get in on the "gender bending." (Two images.)

In 1903 the couple moved to Oslo - at the time still known as Kristiania - and continued working as professional photographers, mostly producing scenic and portrait post cards. The two also founded the publishing company Berg og Høghs Kunstforlag A.S., publishing books such as the three-volume Norske Kvinder, a history of Norwegian women. Høgh - for some reason she changed the spelling of her name around this time - continued her suffrage work in the capital, in 1909 becoming local chairman of the LKSF, a post she held until suffrage was finally won in 1913.

Norwegian polar explorers Nansen and Amundsen were the cultural superstars of the moment, something which may have inspired this particular costume.

I've been unable to find any information about the later part of their lives, except that they spent their last days together on a farm. Berg passed away at the age of seventy-one or -two, and Høeg followed her five years later, aged eighty-three. Much later, in the 1980s, a box labelled "private" was discovered in a barn on the property. Inside were 440 glass negatives, created during the eight years Høeg and Berg lived in Horten. The images are now included in the collection of the Preus Museum - the Norwegian national photography museum - which is located in Horten.


  1. Terrific overview. Thanks for sharing these images.

  2. Your posts are so fun to look at!! Where are you finding all of these old photographs!? They are amazing!!

    1. Thank you so much, Judith. As to where I find the images I share, I've often said that much/most of what I post are just things I've stumbled across... when looking for something else! There's so much out there on the internet. So many wonderful paintings, photographs, artists, or historical figures that I'm only vaguely familiar with or know not at all. I'm really drawn to those subjects, people or things that have been mostly forgotten, artists who have been marginalized. So then I get excited and start on the HUNT. I always try to find the best quality and largest images to include here. So using all my tricks to sleuth out the best ones is part of the fun. And then I often spend a lot of time cleaning up images in Photoshop, making them as close to the original as possible. As an artist myself, I do that to honor the original creator of the work, to show their work in the best possible light; I see it as a "professional courtesy"! Glad you've enjoyed what you've seen here. : )

  3. Marie Hoeg var en trendsetter innen kvinners rettigheter for Norge. Hun levde livet pa sine premisser som alle mennesker burde. A royke sigaretter, drikke brennevin og kjore bil var ikke ment a vaere aktiviteter for damer pa den tiden, hun beviste at sjavinistene tok feil.