H. A. Brendekilde (1857-1942)

Danish painter, well-known for dark social realist themes and naturalist winter landscapes, but the underworld also preoccupied him, esp. as the illustrator of Wilhelm Bergsøe's retold folktales about the Danish Nisse (pixie), but here is a rare and rather wild looking troll of his with a certain reminiscence of Louis Moe's style.

Next a painting from 1888 called “Troll at a Barrow at Dusk” (54 x 71 cm) - a quite dark and gloomy picture:

Here is a personal christmas card by H. A. Brendekilde with a goblin/troll/dwarf, seemingly on a drinking picnic with an owl.

Expressionist Troll Painters

Asger Jorn (1914-1973), Richard Mortensen (1910-1993) and the Dutch painter Lucebert (1924-1994) were all modernist painters painting in an expressive style.

Asger Jorn returned to the subject of troll several times through his career, celebrating the childhood vision, using oil and lithography instead of crayon to visualise the uncivilised monsters that World War II and the Cold War revoked.

First Trold (1955):

And here is one called Trolden og fuglene (The Troll and the Birds) from 1948 (the troll is on the left side):


A second Danish abstract painter that also touched on the subject of troll in the development of his abstract language was Richard Mortensen. Here is a great example of a traditional violent troll rendered in a modern visual language:

Richard Mortensen Trold

Finally, a great gouache from 1973 by Lucebert called "Trolls":

Dagfin Werenskiold (1892-1977)

The son of one of Norway's best troll painters, Erik Werenskiold, Dagfin Werenskiold was a busy illustrator who followed in his father's footsteps, painting the Norwegian countryside including its supernatural inhabitants. As in this dramatic illustration of a troll killing. Like his father, Dagfin also illustrated Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian fairytales. Notice that Norwegian trolls are often quite big, exceeding the size of Swedish and Danish trolls.

Dagfin Werenskiold Troll Killing

Louis Moe (1857-1945)

"A troll looks like a human and in many cases a human is a troll!"
(Louis Moe in an interview)

A good craftsman, Louis Moe was Norwegian by birth, but spent most of his career in Denmark where he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen and became a Danish citizen in his later years. One of his most famous works is Ragnarok, an illustrated account of the Norse myth of apocalypse or Doomesday (see example). But he also illustrated the beautiful Darwinian fairy tales of Carl Ewald and various children's books incl. picture stories about Santa Claus on the North Pole, the Sea King and the Troll king and his family (see below). He also illustrated Emma Kraft's book of children's songs called 'Mellem Trolde' (Amongst Trolls) from 1896, where you find this little running troll:

Here are some other examples of his great artistic talent, both with etchings and ink drawings. First a troll or perhaps faun (a Greek demigod that was also popular in late 19th century art):

Then a naughty troll child:

Moe was also a great bear painter as the following two works show:

Moe mainly painted troll children (maybe as a result of not having any children of his own?). In this etching from 1933 we see a big brother dancing for his little sister:

Then the cover and one illustration from Troldebogen (The Troll Book), a story about a troll family that doesn't wake up when their cat eats the rooster that usually awakens them at sunset. Louis Moe didn't just illustrate other writers' stories, but also wrote his own while waiting for new assignments. This is one example:

Moe also drew many one page cartoons like the following from 1924 about a poor little troll that noone wants to play with:

Lille Trold by Louis Moe
(click for bigger version)

Moe could however also draw more wild looking trolls like the three sleepy ones on the painting below (from around 1918). are the Trolls awakening after the terrors of World War I:

Awakening by Louis Moe 1918

Let us end this quick exhibition of Moe's great troll art with this etching from 1923 of trolls being swept away by a gigantic brush - held by whom? The artist, history, Christianity? You decide!

Trolls Being Swept Away 1923

Troll Sculpture, Fløjen, Bergen

Who is the artist behind this lovely troll sculpture which sits on the top of Fløjen Mountain in Bergen, Norway?

Floejen Troll, Bergen, Norway

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