The sculpture of the Sagas

The art and archaeology of exploration in the north is a fascinating subject to explore.  Here is a brief video from my trip last month to Iceland showing some of the sculptures of figures from the Vínland sagas.  They range from the heroic Leif Eiriksson (by Stirling Calder) and Thorfinn Karlsefni (by Einar Jónsson) in Reykjavik (note the cross Leif is holding, which along with the sword would have made him one of the first Christian soldiers, if you believe that he was indeed carrying Christianity to the Greenland and the New World), to the strong maternal explorer Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir as sculpted by Ásmundur Sveinsson, to the almost prancing version of Leif at Eiríksstaðir by Nína Sæmundsson. The two Leif statues were apparently in competition in 1930 to see which would be given to the people of Iceland from the people of the U.S. on the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Icelandic Parliament, the Alþingi. It seems probable that Sæmundsson’s intepretation of Leif was a bit too effete for the Modern Age in which it was produced. Calder’s Christian soldier hero carried the day.

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