Rosemaling in Wisconsin

Per Lysne working on a plate, Stoughton, Wisconsin
Photo courtesy of Harriet Romnes, Wisconsin Folk Museum Collection

Celebrating Per Lysne in a parade at the Syttende Mai Festival, Stoughton, Wisconsin
Photo courtesy of Western Publishing, Inc.

Rosemaled smorgasbord plate by Per Lysne, 1935-1946
Gift of Alice Helland and Edith Quade (1999.20.1)

Rosemaling, the Norwegian folk tradition of painting colorful floral decorations on everyday items, gained popularity in the United States through the efforts of Per Lysne of Stoughton, Wisconsin. Son of a tradesman rosemaler, Lysne came to Wisconsin from Norway in 1907. He developed a thriving rosemaling enterprise and instructed the art to a select few. His signature piece, the smorgasbord plate, was not an object that typically had been decorated, but Lysne's new form had a pervasive influence. The phrase on the plate reads, “The smorgasbord is now spread. Enjoy!”