The new wall text for The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss notes that this location is now the site of a hydroelectric power station. Reading this I imagined curating a whole exhibition of paintings of rivers that were subsequently tapped for their hydroelectric power - images of the Romantic sublime that could only now be depicted in terms of the industrial sublime. In providing this information for the visitor, the Gallery turns the painting into a kind of an environmental art work. But Dahl was not painting a pristine wilderness. The foreground is strewn with tree trunks that are too large to have been felled by the river. They were the product of a lumbering operation were logs were thrown into the river and then collected downstream. Thus the forest trees and running water depicted in this painting were already being treated as a 'standing reserve' for technological exploitation when Johan Christian Dahl passed this way, nearly two centuries ago.
Johan Christian Dahl, The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss, 1827