Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent

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Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent
Johann Heinrich Fussli-Tor and Jormundgandr.jpg
Artist Henry Fuseli
Year1790
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions133 cm× 95.6 cm(52 in× 37.6 in)
Location Royal Academy of Arts Collections, London

Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent is a 1790 painting by the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli. It depicts one of the most popular myths in Germanic mythology, Thor's fishing trip, which was known to Fuseli through P. H. Mallet's 1755 book Introduction à l'histoire du Dannemarc, translated to English by Thomas Percy in 1770 as Northern Antiquities. [1] The nude and muscular Thor stands in Hymir's boat with the Jörmungandr on his fish hook.

Henry Fuseli 18th and 19th-century Swiss painter

Henry Fuseli was a Swiss painter, draughtsman and writer on art who spent much of his life in Britain. Many of his works, such as The Nightmare, deal with supernatural subject-matter. He painted works for John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, and created his own "Milton Gallery". He held the posts of Professor of Painting and Keeper at the Royal Academy. His style had a considerable influence on many younger British artists, including William Blake.

Thor Hammer-wielding Nordic god associated with thunder

In Germanic mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind and also hallowing and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, extensions of the god occur in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar. All forms of the deity stem from a Common Germanic *Þunraz.

Hymir Norse giant

In Norse mythology, Hymir is a giant, husband of the giantess Hroðr and according to the Eddic poem Hymiskviða the father of the god Týr. He is the owner of a mile-wide cauldron in which the Æsir wanted to brew beer; Thor, accompanied by Týr, obtained it from him. He has several daughters.

The painting was Fuseli's diploma work for his election to the British Royal Academy of Arts in 1790. The subject has been interpreted in relation to Fuseli's support for the French Revolution, where the serpent could represent the Ancien Régime. [2]

Royal Academy of Arts art institution in London, England

The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. It has a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects. Its purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Ancien Régime Monarchic, aristocratic, social and political system established in the Kingdom of France from approximately the 15th century until the later 18th century

The Ancien Régime was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from the Late Middle Ages until 1789, when hereditary monarchy and the feudal system of French nobility were abolished by the French Revolution. The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. The term is occasionally used to refer to the similar feudal systems of the time elsewhere in Europe. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts, internal conflicts, and civil wars, but they remained and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars. Much of the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralization. Despite, however, the notion of "absolute monarchy" and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, the Kingdom of France retained its irregularities: authority regularly overlapped and nobles struggled to retain autonomy.

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References

  1. "Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent". VADS . Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  2. "Thor battering the Midgard Serpent, 1790". Royal Academy of Arts . Retrieved 2016-10-22.