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Johan Thomas Lundbye (1818-1848)



Lundbye's alterego, the cavetroll Sindre, shortly before Lundbye went to war and got killed.

Johan Thomas Lundbye, a respected landscape painter, was maybe the first serious Scandinavian artist who became occupied, if not obsessed, with folklore. Having painted many of Denmark's burial mounds from the Bronze Age in a fresh naturalistic style, he became interested in their inhabitants, the hill trolls, with whom he identified in his sketchbooks, Troldom og Hule-Tanker (Magic and Cave Thoughts), reprinted 1955, produced shortly before his far too early death in 1848, only 30 years old, during the war between Denmark and Prussia. He invented the cave troll Sindre as his alterego. Lundbye also illustrated Just Mathias Thiele's collection of Danish folk tales inspired by the Grimm Brothers. Lundbye's troll resemble other artists' elves or pixies, tailless and attractive, wearing a red cap and smoking a pipe, but this may be closer to how trolls were viewed in traditional folklore than how John Bauer and other late-Romantic artists chose to interpret them a few decades later when symbolism reigned. Sindre is however first and foremost Lundbye himself.


Sindre and a Stork


Sindre in the Forest


Sindre and a farm pixie eating porridge

You can see some of his landscape paintings here.

Here is an illustration from J. M. Thiele's Danish Folktales of a "dwarf" borrowing beer and later returning with more beer that brings good luck. Dwarf - troll - nisse, in the folk tales generic distinctions between the supernaturals don't matter, they are just different and powerful.


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