Einar Jónsson

Einar Jónsson was an Icelandic sculptor, born in Galtafell, a farm in southern Iceland.

At a young age, Einar proved himself to be an unusual child with an artistic bent. At that time there was little or no tradition of sculpture in Iceland, so Einar moved to Denmark where he attended the Copenhagen Academy of Art.

In 1902 the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, awarded Einar a grant to study in Rome for 2 years. He returned from Rome to Copenhagen and settled down there. In 1909, after living abroad for almost 20 years, he made an arrangement with the Althing to provide him with a home and studio in Reykjavík. In return, he agreed to donate all his works to the country.

Einar realized 2 works for North America, the first was awarded by Joseph Bunford Samuel to create a statue of Icelandic explorer Þorfinnur Karlsefni in Philadelphia, the second was erected when the Icelandic community in Manitoba, Canada, purchased a casting of his Jón Sigurðsson statue.

After two years in America, Einar returned to Iceland where he produced an amazing body of work, none of it seen outside the country. Unlike most other sculptors, Einar worked almost entirely in plaster. This had to do partly with the lack of good modeling clay in Iceland, but it allowed Einar to work on his individual sculptures for years. Spending over a decade on a particular piece was not uncommon for him.

Einar's works fall into three general categories. First, there were the public monuments that he was commissioned by the government to produce. The second group was private commissions that he obtained, consisting of portraits and cemetery monuments. The third collection consisted of the private works that he labored over as he became increasingly and deeply spiritually attuned and reclusive.

In recent years Einar's plasters have been cast in bronze and placed in the garden of his home and studio or in city parks in Reykjavík and throughout Iceland. He donated his work to the Einar Jónsson Museum in Reykjavík, which opened in 1923.

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