Welcome to the Internet's largest and constantly expanding troll art gallery for inspiration and admiration. Now with 72 classic Scandinavian troll painters, most of whom have used the troll to explore and celebrate difference and otherness. They came up with quite different 'inner trolls', however, some cute and friendly, others ugly and scary, but somehow one cannot help wishing that they really exist... Please notice that this gallery only covers professional Scandinavian troll artists, especially before 1960 albeit with a few later exceptions.

Ib Spang Olsen (1921-2012)

Danish illustrator, who was a great friend of and never forgot the dirty, rugged naked man-eating troll of early folklore.despite a very busy career spanning many decades.

Here is one of his (as usual quite scary and hairy and very un-Bauersque) trolls:

Plus a smirky couple:

and another scruffy troll from his and Halfdan Rasmussen's now classic ABC:

Ivo Caprino (1920-2001)

Norwegian animator (puppeterr).
Here is a retelling of one of the most famous Norwegian fairytales by Asbjørnsen and Moe

Björn Landström

(Beauty and the Beast)

Finnish-Swedish painter and illustrator.
Got wounded during the war. While recovering, he started to paint pictures inspired by the Swedish troll painters John Bauer and Gustaf Tenggren.

Ernst Køie (1872-1960)

Danish artist from the island of Bornholm, who throughout his life drew many of the island's local trolls.

Arne Taraldsen (1917 -1989)

Norwegian cartoonist and troll painter

Taraldsen Wall Painting
Wall painting from hotel

Troll Woman

Troll Woman

Troll Family

Herman Stilling (1925-1996)

Danish painter who spent most of his life painting and writing about trolls. You can see his work in his own museum, the Herman Stilling Museum in Copenhagen. Stilling's trolls may seem 'arty' at first sight, but are closely related to both Asger Jorn's and Lundbye's Danish trolls - which are clearly projections of the artists themselves, stripped bare of civilisation and modernity - all that is left is their pure natural, instinctual, maybe even sensual being as "trolls". Or that is at least how I choose to interpret them.

Here is one his paintings, borrowed from the above site, called "Red Troll":

Another one simply entitled "A Troll" (1976):

And here is a painting from 1969 of a resting troll:

A small "Troll in Forest":

Hermann Stilling Trold i Skov

A troll and a mermaid:

Here's an engraving from 1950 called "Troll which digests" (notice the human inside him):

And finally a troll girl by the name of Emma from one of his funny troll stories:

Ivar Arosenius (1878-1908)

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Sweden's other great fairytale illustrator from the early part of the 20th century, more political and burlesque than John Bauer and just as poetical, lyrical, his images being full of fantasy and melancholy. Arosenius died only 30 years old shortly after his breakthrough as an artist.

2010 saw a major exhibition of Arosenius' work in Stockholm and Goethenburg.

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Here is a beautiful abducted princess,
painted in 1904, maybe considering
And here are some more of his hilarious trolls:
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Niels Skovgaard (1858-1938)

Danish book illustrator, son of P. C. Skovgaard, Danish landscape painter, and brother of Joakim Skovgaard, famous for his wall paintings in Viborg Cathedral. Niels Skovgaard has illustrated many books, incl. Icelandic sagas and Axel Olrik's collection of Danish myths and fairytales, Danske Sagn og Æventyr fra Folkemunde (1913) - check out his illustrations for the story Skalle here. Here are a few other trolls from Olrik's collection:

See full illustration here

And finally a design for a plate with a subject from an old folk song - the Giant Bermer ('rise' being another word for 'giant') and the young hero Orm.

Hans Normann Dahl (b. 1937)

Norwegian illustrator.

The troll Trym from a book by Linn Stokle about a troll whose father dies after giving his son a gift which is forbidden in the Troll Mountain.

Theodore Kittelsen (1857-1914)

Kittelsen portrait by C. Krogh
One of my favourites is Theodore Kittelsen, a Norwegian artist (1857-1914). Like Bauer and Stilling, Kittelsen also has a museum. Kittelsen grew up and spent most of his life in the Norwegian countryside, struggling with poverty and recognition - which he gained far too late in life. Many of his illustrated stories were not published during his lifetime. Studied in Munich. Norway's first social realist but then moved into naturalism and symbolism with his drawings of landscapes which are deadly, full of loneliness and mystery, but beautiful.His trolls are more complex and moody than John Bauer's as is clear from the pictures below, which is the last troll he ever drew, shortly before his unhappy death, his biggest worry being how his wife and 8 children would survive without his small income. If you are ever in Norway, why not visit his home in Sigdal. At least he is appreciated now long after his death.
The troll below (in two different versions) is pondering just how old he is (we are obviously talking centuries) - perhaps as unhappy about his old age as Kittelsen was in his last years about his lack of success and ageing.

Kittelsen's trolls are never cute and cuddly but represent the dark forces of nature, like the following two forest trolls (Kittelsen was obviously not a happy man):

Here is a more human-looking troll fulfilling his paternal duties (maybe reflecting the fact that Kittelsen had many children):

While here he portrays a different kind of creature, the always grey-clad farm pixie, known for its ability to communicate with farm animals:

"Blakken og tungubben" (The white horse and the farm pixie) (1907)

Kittelsen always dreamt of illustrating the famous Norwegian play by Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt, whose main character visits the underworld and the Dovre Gubbe, the troll king. Kittelsen's dream sadly never came true but here is one of his interpretions of the play that Edward Grieg composed the music for:

"Peer and the Dovre Gubbe"

Kittelsen's most famous work is his illustrations for Asbjørnsen and Moe's collection of Norwegian fairy tales - see the Troll Book Shop and the section Troll Writers. Here is one drawing from the stories about Askeladden, a young courageous character about whom many stories exist:

But Kittelsen could also draw other fantasy creatures, like this beautiful dead dragon in mixed technique from 1904 - maybe a subconscious comment on how the artist's own treasures of imagination were never truly appreciated (like these uncollected treasures which the dragon guards even after its death):

And finally a lovely troll sketch from around 1894:

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

Axel Törneman (1880-1925)

Modernist Swedish painter. Not a real troll painter but qualifies to this gallery with his wonderful painting "The Troll King and the Princess" from 1905, painted in his typical, very dramatic and dynamic style, more influenced by German fairytale illustration than Bauer's soft organic trolls. In a letter to his parents Törneman explained that the troll represented the dark forces in the human while the princess represented the good. Looking at the picture today one does notice that the princess voluntarily follows the troll king who gently leads her into his realm, she does not seem either forced or drugged, but rather as someone accepting her fate/capture. But can one really trust what a young male artist says to his parents?

Troll King and Princess

Nils Bergslien (1853-1928)

Norwegian painter/illustrator with his own museum here who drew Norwegian pixies and trolls like Dovre Gubben below, the famous troll said to reside in the Dovre Fjell in the cold interior of mid-Norway and whom Henrik Ibsen invented in his play Peer Gynt. This troll looks quite similar to Bergslien's pixies and very different from later Norwegian trolls:

And here's a painting from 1877 called "Matauk hos trollen" or "Food gathering among the trolls":

Andreas Bloch (1860-1917)

Norwegian illustrator and painter, esp. of military subjects. But he also worked for various funny magazines and although obscure in comparison to Bauer, Kittelsen and Moe, his trolls are very original. Birger Sivertsen does however mention in "For noen troll" (2000) that Kittelsen once expressed surprise that Bloch had been given a commission to draw trolls, saying to his daughter : "Bloch draw trolls? But he has never seen any!" Kittelsen is known to have said the same about the other major Norwegian troll painter Erik Werenskiold. It is thus tempting to conclude that Kittelsen felt a strong sense of ownership towards trolls. Only his vision was a true representation.

First a troll receiving electrical treatment (to cure its temperament?):

Electrified troll by Andreas Bloch

Then a troll shouting:

Shouting troll by Andreas Bloch

Then a lovely ink wash of a very sad troll:

Crying Troll by Andreas Bloch

A very thirsty troll:

Thirsty Troll by Andreas Bloch

Then a troll looking into a house:

And finally a troll escaping into his cave:

Asgrimur Jonsson (1876-1958)

Great icelandic painter of landscapes and the Norse underworld.

First his famous "The Night Troll at the Window":

Then two watercolours of strong and aggressive trolls fighting respectively a horseman and each other, reflecting the incredibly rough nature on Iceland:

And two fighting troll women:

Finally, here is a drawing of the so-called Mjóafjardarskessan, the Giantess of Mjol Fiord in Eastern Iceland, who according to legend would appear at the local church every christmas eve, presumably annoyed with the service, and make a terrible noise that would agitate the priest so much that he would run out to stop her. She would then take him to her home in a nearby gorge and eat him. Finally, one priest was able to chase her away by having 6 armed men bar the church door while ringing all the church bells. She made a hole in the church wall and swore that it would never be whole again. Here is Asgrimur Jonsson's picture of this giantess with the skeleton of one of her captured priests in her arms - almost like a baby:

And one more mountain troll from the Icelandig folktale Bukolla, showing Jonsson's great drawing skills:

Ridley Borchgrevink (1898-1981)

Exciting British-born Norwegian illustrator from the first part of the 20th century who did many troll drawings like the one below of a woman mistreating a changeling in the hope that the troll woman who has taken her baby, will return it to save her own troll baby from further abuse.

Christian Skredsvig (1854-1924)

Norwegian painter, friend of Erik Werenskiold. Not a troll painter and never illustrated Asbjørnsen and Moe's fairy tales, but did a few times touch upon the world of trolls, especially in the work Valdresvisa from 1895, where he captured the dramatic side of trolls through his sketchy line and soft colours:

John Bauer (1882-1918)

Bauer selfportrait 1908

John Bauer is without any doubt the Scandinavian artist who defined the modern fairytale troll that separates us from the trolls of rural superstition or folklore. Through his delicate eyes and gentle brush stroke the troll became a sympathetic and often misunderstood creature, uncivilised in an innocent way and thus a perfect companion for the modern child in the town or city who would rarely have the chance to get lost in a real forest and therefore sees it as an idyllic stage of rural fantasy unlike the modern urban landscape of factories and apartments that was just emerging at the time of Bauer with the great immigration of farm labour to the cities. The Bauer troll lives in a distinct world that is consistent from picture to picture, from fairytale to fairytale and is often telling a much more interesting story that the actual stories Bauer was commissioned to illustrate. The picture below called "Root Trolls" is a good example of Bauer's sympathy with both the child and the troll. It could have been a scene of horrible abduction by ugly ogres, but rather evokes safety and friendship. These trolls are curious about the human child, maybe even admiring its beauty, but they pose no threat. Bauer, like Tove Jansson many years later, thus invites the child to explore the world, to seek the unknown, to challenge its own fear.

Bauer Root Trolls

Bauer's world is always set up as at stage with a clearly separated foreground and background and often framed by trees. His style is very decorative as seen above. Below is a typical example with the motif of a beautiful human being led into the troll's world. In Bauer's work it is always the humans who enter the troll's domain, never the opposite, seeking or being forced to encounter some mind- or life-changing experience.

Here is an old troll woman with hairy arms welcoming you inside her cave. Notice Bauer's custom palette of greyish earth colours reminding us that we are now entering the world of the subterraneans, far from our enlightened daylight world. Unlike the witches of the Grimm Brothers this troll woman does not seem to pose any threat. It is more likely that she will invite you in for a cup of root tea and some freshly baked bark bread.

The following two sketches give a good idea about how he developed his troll characters. Notice how soft and organic his line is.

And finally a drawing of a Saami boy, indicating Bauer's interest for more 'natural' peoples which is also reflected in the Trolls' clothes and other artifacts like hand-carved knives. Often neighbouring peoples, eg. Saami, Finns, Gypsies or even the Scanians in Skåne, have been attributed with certain magical powers:

Bauer lived and worked during the age that has later been called the age of National Romanticism, a period until the beginning of World War I when some Scandinavian artists, inspired by the movement of Symbolism, sought the soul of the Nation in the people's own voices, eg. old fairy tales or epic poems as the Finnish Kalevala. In Bauer's case the trolls represented what modern man had lost, an originality and naturalness that was magic. Obviously World War I killed any belief in this project.

Bauer also did a few sculptures, like the following of a trollboy that appears in many of his paintings and may be some alterego:

Let's also meet Bauer's favourite troll Vill - Vallareman who "was a small troll with human features. He was a fine musician and good at playing the bark horn. It could be heard all over the forest when he played. The big trolls were fighting about who should become the next king. But in the end it was Will with his mediating personality who became king. You don't have to be physically big and strong to get far. Even someone small can become king. Vill-Vallareman was "big" inside."
(From H. Schiller, John Bauer Sagotecknaren, Stockholm 1935).

In 1982 Bauer's fairy tale world was celebrated with a series of four stamps:

Finally the classic myth that some Scandinavians still are tempted to believe: John Bauer, tired of painting trolls and eager to develop his art, decided in 1918 to return to Stockholm with his family from their house Björkudden in Småland where he had lived and worked for years, but according to legend the trolls did not want him to leave and therefore created an autumn storm on the generally very peaceful lake Vättern causing the steam ship Per Brahe to sink with all its crew and passengers, including John Bauer, his wife Ester and their son Putte.

It has been discussed whether John and Ester were falling out of love with each other at the time of their untimely and tragic death. Ester felt alone while he was busy pursuing his career as an artist slowly building an international reputation. Whatever the truth was, Bauer's paintings are characterised by a very ephemeral, platonic love between princesses and knights. Women are decorative beauties in his fairytale world whose only role is to be abducted by trolls and saved by knights. In fact, Bauer's trolls are his most human characters - shy, curious, helpful, different, awkward (and as big-nosed as Bauer himself - maybe another reason for his attraction?).


Svenolov Ehrén (1927-2004)

Graphic artist, illustrator of a lovely book from 1961 by Ann-Sofi and Christer Topelius, retelling old fairytales about various supernatural creatures, incl. the devil himself. The book is called Jättar och Troll i Sverige ("Giants and Trolls in Sweden") and is now very rare. I will exhibit other illustrations by Ehrén elsewhere on

Here is Ehrén's graphic interpretation of a folktale from 1490 where trolls offer a young knave a goblet with poisonous wine, hoping to capture him that way (this is a well-known story in many parts of Scandinavia). You can read it here.

And here is his version of the story of the giant Finn who helped build Lund Cathedral, a story also mentioned here.

Albert Jærn

Norwegian illustrator and graphic artist, active before World War II, here with a graphically strong version of Asbjørnsen and Moe's classic fairy tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff:

Einar Norelius (1900-1985)

Tree Troll

Swedish artist of classic Swedish comics series, such as 'Pelle Svanslös' (about a tail-less cat's adventures in Uppsala).
Also illustrator of many stories in the Swedish Bland Tomter och Troll-story magazines where he worked for almost half a century. So far only one book has been written about him, but it is difficult to get hold of.

And finally a good drawing of a troll/giant:

Let's finish with this great painting of a rather confused looking troll king being advised something by another, maybe cunning troll. In this painting Norelius has definitely developed his own style though it is clear he is influenced by contemporary advertisement illustration, eg. American Norman Rockwell:

C. O. Zeuthen (1812-1890)

Here is a very rare pencil drawing/water colour of trolls/pixies dancing and playing music. It is dated 1856 and the artist is mainly known for his wall paintings in various houses in Copenhagen. The picture is called "Troldtøj" which in Danish is the collective name for trolls, pixies, dwarfs and similar. They wear the traditional red cap that later became associated with the christmas pixie but that trolls originally also wore in rural folklore.

Not great art, but trollologically of great interest!

Robert Högfeldt (1894-1986)

Swedish illustrator with quite a Disneyesque style who created a troll world fit for children's books and postcards but quite detached from the trolls of rural folklore. "Urban trolls" one might call them - cute and posing no risk to anybody. He may be said to be the best of the Scandinavian troll postcard artists.

First a bathing male troll with very long beard and hair and quite a stupid look:

Then some trolls teasing an angel (Högfeldt loved playing with the subject - beauty vs. beast - in many versions)

Trolls Teasing an Angel

Followed by some more rough looking trolls discovering a hot bowl of porridge:

Trolls and Hot Porridge

A small troll with two birds:

And finally a detail from a troll painting called "Jealousy" with two male trolls fighting over a troll girl:

Gerhard Munthe (1849-1929)

Norwegian illustrator and designer, famous for his stylized 'art deco' Norse style which was very popular in the late part of the 19th century.

Here is Munthe's illustration of the classic Bukke Bruse story from Asbjørnsen and Moe's fairy tale collection about the troll under the bridge that is being outwitted by the strongest of 3 goats (the 2 others having already been consumed by the irritable troll):

And a detail of the troll himself:

And here is a troll woman with a particularly long nose from one of his designs in his particular mix of art deco and Viking design. You can see more of his work here.

Gustaf Adolf Tenggren (1896-1970)

Swedish illustrator, replaced John Bauer as the illustrator of Bland Tomtar och Troll (Among Pixies and Trolls), moved to America in 1920 where he later found work as illustrator at Disney and worked on several movies incl. Snow White. You can read more about him here.
Here are three troll illustrations by him:

Trolls descending a hill (1915), watercolour and gouache

"She combed their hair" (Bathing in a lily pond), tempera

Troll being chased out of the village

Finally a beautiful watercolour from 1917 called "The Fairytale Forest" with trolls lurking behind every stone and tree - painted during the horrors of World War I:

Lorenz Frölich (1820-1908)

Danish illustrator whose classical training and classicist style is reflected in this picture of Ymer, the first troll according to Norse mythology.

Erik Werenskiold (1855-1938)

Norwegian artist who at the age of 25 illustrated the Norwegian fairy tales by Asbjørnsen and Moe. Also illustrated the Icelandic sagas. The picture to the left reminds us that trolls are always close by even if you cannot see them.

According to his grandson, Erik Werenskiold was once told by his friend and troll painter colleague Th. Kittelsen: "You cannot draw trolls, Erik, you haven't even seen a troll!"

Werenskiold was a great supporter of realism and always studied his material in great details, be it landscapes, interiors or clothes, and thus was the first who turned the castles of Norwegian fairy tales into big traditional farms set in typical Norwegian countryside, while the kings looked like typical Norwegian farmers, thus connecting fairy tales with a realistic national style very unlike Kittelsen's romantic symbolism.

Askeladden kills the troll (ink drawing)

And finally a funny sketch of a three-headed troll:

Hans Gerhard Sørensen (1923-1999)

Wonderful Norwegian book illustrator, famous for his woodprints - also of Scandinavia's supernatural world. In 1958 he illustrated Jonas Lie's story collection Troll.

Here is one of his many troll and tusse creatures hiding behind a tree:

Also check out my blog about the Nix for two prints of that particular creature.

Alfred Schmidt (1858-1938)

A Danish political caricaturist and illustrator. His first trolls from 1915 illustrated a story in a funny magazine about a Norwegian art exhibition in Denmark, where a symphony seemingly made the trolls so scared that they immediately ran home to their Norwegian mountains.

Schmidt also captured trolls' political potential, eg. in the following caricature from 1926 of a Danish trade union leader as an awakening troll getting ready to act against striking workers:

Jan Lööf (born 1940)

From the pixi book The Mountain Trolls' New Home (1976)

The famous Swedish comic book artist and illustrator of childrens' books, Jan Lööf, has also captured the spirit of the peaceful Scandinavian troll in his own very characteristic style. On this Swedish site you can see his story of the mountain trolls who decide to leave their cold caves and move down to the forest, something the forest trolls are not particularly happy about though, but with the help of a witch and the Nixie they build a house in the middle of the lake. Also notice Lööf's friendly but slightly rebellious reference to John Bauer in this frame where this witch chops down the trees in a classic Bauer painting to build the troll's new home:

John Bauer Tuvstarr 1913
Jan LööfJohn Bauer

Maj Fagerberg

Wonderful Swedish illustrator of children's literature, esp. fairytales, who has her own homepage here, but here is a troll mother with her 11 children all tied safely together:

Bo Beskow (1906-1989)

The son of Elsa Beskow, esp. famous for his more experimental art which you can see a few of here, but he was also occupied with trolls in his youth, as in this cover for a collection of troll stories written and illustrated by himself. Note the striking contrast between the soft troll and the sharp geometrical shapes of the townscape and policeman.

Solveig Muren Sanden (1918 -)

Norwegian comic book artist, well-known for her work for the annual album Tuss og Troll that has been published for many decades.

Tove Jansson (1914-2001)

Here are two beautiful examples of this wonderful Finnish-Swedish artist's simple black and white drawings of the Moomin creature, a creature originally invented by her uncle to scare her from going in to the dark basement:


And finally a lovely gouache demonstrating her great colour understanding:

Copyright Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson cooperated with her brother Lars Jansson on the comic book series based on her books. Here is a lovely watercolour of the Moomin troll by him:

Christian Kittelsen

A relative of Th. Kittelsen, but with more talent for the postcard industry than for original troll painting. Here is one of card designs:

Hans Arnold (born 1925)

Hans Arnold, Swiss by birth but living in Stockholm since 1948, has been one of Scandinavia's busiest artists for the last 50 years, also as an illustrator of trolls in the famous Swedish fairytale collection Bland Tomtar och Troll.

Here is one lovely example from his own website that is definitely worth visiting:

(Part of illustration)


Lithography - "I stora stygga skogen" ("In the big dangerous forest")

Arne Bang (1901-1983)

Danish sculpturer and ceramicist, best known for his sculpture of the so-called Fladså-trold in Næstved, Southern Sealand, a troll who was very angry at the loud church bells in the town and decided to drown it in sand, but on his way to the town, the sand fell out of his sack and created a big hill. The troll now guards the town hall.

Brian Pilkington

Icelandic illustrator of British origin, well-known for his illustrations to Icelandic Trolls, that has been translated to many languages.
Here is one example of his cute and funny trolls:

Otto Sinding (1842-1909)

One of the original illustrators of Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian folk tales, though only contributing with one troll picture - from the famous story about the goat and the troll under the bridge. See also Tord Nygren's version of the same motif. Sinding is best known for his oil paintings of landscapes and rural life.

(technique: xylography)

You can see some of Sinding's stunning landscapes here.

Per Krogh (1889-1965)

One of Norway's greatest modern artists and one of the best illustrators of Asbjørnson and Moe's fairy tales:

Boy cutting off Troll's five heads

Mountain Troll

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.

Hugo Simberg (1873-1917)

This very original Finnish symbolist painter drew, strictly speaking, devils ("pirut"), but they are both physically and functionally quite similar to the trolls of Arosenius and other contemporaries and thus deserve mentioning. Here is one painting of a ring dance:

Ring Dance by Hugo Simberg

And here is a drinking giant in John Bauer's style:

Drinking Giant by Hugo Simberg

Tord Nygren (born 1936)

Very productive Swedish illustrator, recently (2004) of Asbjørnsen and Moe's tales. Especially known for his great watercolour techniques as in the two troll pictures below:

This kind looking troll is from the book Trollringen from 2002:

Inger Edelfeldt (born 1956)

Swedish illustrator and writer of children books, adult books and comic books plus more. Also known for her illustrations of Tolkien's universe. Very intelligent writer and very talented artist. Here are two drawings of her funny trolls, the pink being a "no troll" and the yellow a "yes troll" (both from 2002):

Torbjörn Egner

Fun Norwegian writer and illustrator, the creator of the following two tooth trolls, well-known from Scandinavian television:

Egner Trolls
Lots more to come!

Åke Holm (1900-1980)

Swedish cheramist and graphic artist, lived and worked in Höganäs all his life, developed the so-called Kullatroll in the 1940's, now a popular collector's item. Here are a few examples of his trolls:

Inga Borg (born 1925)

Swedish writer and illustrator, creator of this lovely little troll like creature called Plupp who lives in the far north of Sweden among reindeer and mountains.

Plupp has his own club here (but only in Swedish)

Here is a beautiful ink drawing of the Frost Giant in her beloved Northern Swedish environment:

Hugo Hamilton (1849-1928)

A Swedish poet of nonsense poetry who also drew troll pictures to illustrate some of his funny poems (not translated), found in the book För barn och barnbarn (1925). Here is one example of both his drawing and writing skills (in Swedish):

"Tumpar du i kallimallivandra?"
sa det fõrsta trollet till det andra.
"Nej, men linkelunk har buritörsta",
sa det andra trollet till det första.
Det var inte underligt minsann,
att de inte alls förstod varann!

(In the poem one troll asks a nonsensical question to another troll who then gives an equally nonsensical answer and the poet states he is not surprised at all that the two trolls don't understand each other).

Kaare Espolin Johnson (1907-1994)

Unknown to me but deserves a special blog entry because of this great Sjøtroll - Sea Troll.

He has an art museum in Lofoten, a group of remote Norwegian islands, and is famous in Norway for his graphic representations of the hard life on the Northern coast.

Bjarne Walle (1911-1989)

Well-known Norwegian wood carver, here with a funny beer-drinking troll from the mid-20th century:

Miscellaneous artists

Here I will showcase a few artists or works that I know nothing of:

First a woven tapestry from 1900 by A. Wallander depicting four trolls - a good example of Art Nouveau with its very decorative design.

Next an oil painting by the Swedish artist Tor Bjurström (1888 - 1966) called "Trollet":

And a lovely watercolor by Norwegian Erik Harry Johannessen (1902-1980) of three princesses captured by the trolls:

And finally a Trold painted by the Uruguayan painter Milton Charruti Blanc who escaped to Denmark in the 1980's when this small Scandinavian country still opened its arms to refugees:

That trolls inspire not just fantasy painters but also more abstract painters can be seen in the following contemporary work by the exciting Danish painter Jan Ulrik Friis called "Skovtrolde" (Forest Trolls) from 1994/5:

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

The great Danish fairy tale writer also did paper cuttings. Here is one of a troll guarded by four soldiers from a picture book he made for a girl called Christine and which you can see here.

Suzette Cathrine Holten (1863-1937)

Danish ceramicist. The ceramic sculpture below from 1888 is called "The Troll Which Emptied the Lake":

Niels Aas (1933-2004)

Norwegian sculpturer famous for his Troll, Kollen-Trollet (2002), outside Oslo:

This troll has its own homepage here

Elsa Beskow (1874-1953)

Swedish children book writer and illustrator. I only know of one troll drawing from her, from one of her books about a tiny family living in the forest, the Tomteborna. Here the children run away after encountering a mountain troll:

Read more about her here.

Mogens Zieler (1905-1983)

Danish painter, famous for his simple style and esp. his cats but he was also a good and original troll painter as the two pictures below show. His work can be found in Horsens Art Museum in Denmark.

William Heinesen (1900-1991)

Faroese novelist and painter

(From "Tröllabarsilið", 1929 - trolls celebrating a troll child birth)

(Vakurleikin og beistið, 1953) - Beauty and the Beast

Rolf Lidberg (1925?-2005)

The last great Scandinavian troll painter Rolf Lidberg died Februari 2005, 74 years old. He was an expert of Swedish orchids and guided many botanical walks in Sweden and also produced watercolour illustrations of Swedish flora, but is probably most well-known for his funny trolls that did more or less the same as people in those parts of the world, they just lived longer (say 500 years), in complete harmony with nature and had tails and longer ears and bigger noses. His paintings were lighter than John Bauer's, both in technique and subject-matter, but the influence is obvious. The photo of Lidberg painting flowers is copyright Hjördis Lundmark.

Two alterego trolls:

A skiing troll:

And finally a cover from his story Trollromans about two trolls getting married and having a little troll baby:
Lidberg Trollromans book cover

Elizabeth Nyman

(from "Troll" by Ebbe Schön, 1997)

Contemporary Swedish illustrator

As the pictures above show, Nyman has succeeded in freeing herself of Bauer's overshadowing influence by making trolls more animal-like but thereby also less analogous to humans.

Niels Hansen-Jacobsen (1861-1941)

("Troll Scenting Christian Blood" from 1896)

Danish sculptor occupied with the Underworld, rather seen in biblical than folklore terms. World famous in the small Jutland town of Vejen.

L. Mahler - Krølle Bølle

A famous Danish troll, Krølle Bølle, from the Danish island Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, drawn and written by a L. Mahler. The text next to the picture is a curse, Krølle Bølle learns from his father, the Troll King, and that he uses to protect himself whenever he is in danger - until he, unfortunately, runs into a deaf person who doesn't like his manners... The big smoked herring is the national dish of the island by the way! Bornholm also has many traditional troll stories.

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