And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

søndag 29. juli 2018

Saint Olaf seated - an illumination from The Icelandic Model Book

Today is the feast of Saint Olaf, the patron saint of Norway, who died at Stiklestad north of Trondheim in 1030. He fought against an army of Norwegian nobles and the Danish king Knud, the latter having established overlordship over Norway when Olaf was sent into exile in Russia in 1028. The cult of Olaf was of great importance throughout medieval Norway, and also in the wider Nordic world. Of the few Norwegian saints, Olaf is by far the most widely and frequently depicted. In this brief blogpost, I wish to present one example of this, namely from the Icelandic Model Book, in which were drawn images from which the illuminators could see how various figures should be drawn. Olaf figures frequently in this, and below is one of the images, where he is seated, holding the axe of his martyrdom. This photograph was taken at the North-Atlantic House in Odense, when a friend and I attended the exhibition of the manuscript.

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