“Holy shit, Tyr just stuck his hand in the wolf’s mouth!…Sweet.”
That, I think, is the effect John Bauer was going for in this piece. He was really good at this sort of thing, and it’s unfortunate that he’s dead. But then that’s just one of the natural side effects of being born over 100 years ago, regardless of whether you drown in a boat accident or not. However, we can all at least be thankful that during his life, he created some of the greatest art inspired by Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore around. He is usually most renowned for his work for Bland Tomtar och Troll, which is wonderful, but he also illustrated Viktor Rydberg’s 19th century retelling of Norse Myths for Swedish children, Fädernas Gudasaga, which is where the Tyr/Fenrir image comes from. More awesome samples from both are below.
And while you’re at it, it’s worth visiting Art Passions for an extensive gallery of Bauer’s works, as well as the John Bauer – Lär & Upptäck section at Jönköpings Läns Museum, which has an exhibit devoted to the man and additional materials about his life, work process, etc. (in Swedish only).
Odin and Bifrost
Loki and Idunn
Ännu sitter Tuvstarr kvar och ser ner i vattnet
(“Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water”)
Titta på dem, sade trollmor. Titta på mina söner! Vackrare troll finns inte på denna sidan månen.(“Look at them, said the troll mother. Look at my sons! Prettier trolls aren’t to be found this side of the moon.”)