• Lbs_1040_fol

The Sagas of the Kings of Norway

artist unknown artist artist unknown 1699

This illustration of Harald I King of Norway, or Harald Fairhair (ca. 850-933), is an example of art preserved from a manuscript that is now lost. The illustrated pages are three in all and were once part of a larger manuscript but at some point they were removed from the book and now stand on their own. The largest illustration is this one depicting the king. The other two smaller pages written in calligraphy are title pages of the lost manuscript that contained stories of the kings of Norway and the extant pages reveal that it was written in 1699. All of the pages are beautifully crafted in strong colours with great artistry. After close inspection it was confirmed that the three pages are indeed made from the same type of paper.
Stories of the kings of Norway are preserved in Icelandic medieval manuscripts that were rewritten again and again and thus have been preserved throughout the ages. There are many things that indicate that this particular manuscript was written on the island of Vigur by order of Magnús “digri” Jónsson (1637-1702), farmer and scholar who employed numerous talented scribes. The image of Harald Fairhair in many ways resembles other extant images credited to Hjalti Þorsteinsson (1665-1764), a priest in Vatnsfjörður, so it is not unlikely that this illustration was also made by Hjalti. The three pages need to be inspected in much greater detail before we can maintain with any certainty where they hail from and who created them.
Lbs 1040 fol.
National and University Library of Iceland