The Realistic Old Norse Art of Howard David Johnson

Here’s a badass image of Beowulf standing in front of Heorot, fantasizing about all the various ways in which he might brutally slay Grendel. This little bit of artistic glory comes courtesy of Howard David Johnson, a contemporary artist specializing in mixed media who often chooses historical epics and myths as his themes of choice. In fact, his website features a whole page devoted exclusively to his work based on Norse mythology, and you should probably go visit it if you enjoy that sort of thing. Some of the pieces may not be as compelling as others, but there are enough cool ones to make it a fun place to browse. Here’s another that I like a lot, called Kreimhilde’s Revenge, based on the Volsunga Saga/Nibelungenlied:

One Reply to “The Realistic Old Norse Art of Howard David Johnson”

  1. Re. the painting of Beowulf spacing out. Well although the theme is fairly cool, I believe that just behind him, hidden by his shield the other guys from the village are carving “Beowulf is a wanker” into the side of his ship. I mean, who the fuck walks around the village fully dressed in mail and armour when the ship is obviously in drydock? A few comments on the armour as well if I may. He must have a deformed lower left arm to be able to hold the shield that far in front of him and at an angle to face the viewer, and the stab marks on the shield face and lack of slashe marks at the rim suggest that they were done intentionally. The fur cloak is a nice touch but should be hasped at the right shoulder to allow free movement of the sword arm. Finally and most importantly, the scabbard slung on the back. Now this is a recent popularist myth generated by Hollywood and this is why …

    A Viking age sword typically has an average blade length (not including the grip or hilt) of around 84cm and a six foot tall man has arms (not including his hands) of around 68cm. This means that with his hand over his shoulder and holding the grip, even if he was very flexible and wasn’t restricted by vambraces on his forearms etc; he could not pull the sword fully from the scabbard, as there would be a little over 6 inches still inside. This means he would have to either work it out by handling it out by the blade or lay down on the ground and use both hands to draw it out. These both look really stupid when getting ready to fight or gathering into a shield wall. I know some earsling is going to say that “the scabbard hinges from the shoulder and is not fixed at the tip”. To which I suggest that that earling don such a device and go for a brisk walk as the sword will then rythmically tap the back of your head and push your helmet over your eyes. If you run with it like this, it will knock savagely into your neck and head and the end of the scabbard works its way up the crack of your arse and puts you out of step. Oh, and by the way, don’t whatever you do sit down with it on like that or it will either castrate you, cut you a new arse or stick up the back of your helmet and strangle you with the strap. This does not look so cool and actually looks faintly ridiculous. Hmmm, maybe that’s why he has that stupid look on his face in the painting.

    These are humorous things real vikings get the ‘new kids’ to do for a laugh. The real way to wear a sword is on a belt at the waist with the weight held over the shoulder by a baldrick. This tried and trusted method is the easiest way to carry a sword and draw it fast enough to cut their heads off.
    Skål Earslings.

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