Danish artist Johannes Larsen journey to the Saga land.
8. February - 4. May
1930 was the thousand-year anniversary of the foundation of Altinget, the Icelandic parliament, at Þingvellir. For this occasion the Icelandic author, Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) and the Danish author, Johannes V. Jensen (1873-1950), embarked upon the task of creating new Danish translations of the Icelandic sagas.
At Johannes V. Jensen's request, Johannes Larsen (1867-1961) travelled to Iceland to sketch the various locations of the sagas as they appeared through his eyes. Johannes V. Jensen knew Johannes Larsen very well and had a certain inkling that Larsen was the right person to depict the grandeur and atmosphere of the Icelandic landscape.
There are no historical buildings or monuments from the times of the sagas in Iceland to draw; the sagas themselves are the monuments. You can take them with you out to the saga sites either in your thoughts or in the form of a book form, tucked under your arm. So it was something of an inspiration on the part of Johannes V. Jensen to imagine that Johannes Larsen's detailed depictions of the landscapes and the saga sites should accompany the text in the new edition of the works. The reader could thereby see the settings in front of them, in their imaginations locating the characters of the sagas in the landscapes.
Johannes Larsen made two journeys to Iceland. The first was in 1927, the second in 1930. Each journey lasted for around three months. A good 300 pen drawings resulted from the two journeys. 188 of them were used in the finished work, The Icelandic Sagas, published by Gyldendal from 1930 to 1932 and 38 of these you can now see at Nordatlantens Brygge in the exhibition: The Saga Journey.
Nordatlantens Brygge kindly thanks Vibeke Nørgaard Nielsen, Johannes Larsens family and Kerteminde Museum for their help and assistance with the exhibition.