Thorfinn Karlsefni (sculpture)

Last updated
Thorfinn Karlsefni
Thorfinn Karlsefni 1918.jpg
Artist Einar Jónsson
Year 1920
Type Bronze
Dimensions 210 cm× 140 cm× 120 cm(84 in× 54 in× 48 in)
Location Philadelphia
Coordinates 39°58′13″N75°11′24″W / 39.9702°N 75.19005°W / 39.9702; -75.19005
Owner City of Philadelphia
Fairmount Park Commission

Thorfinn Karlsefni is a bronze statue by Icelandic sculptor Einar Jónsson. The first casting of it is located in Fairmount Park on Kelly Drive, at the North end of Boathouse Row, Philadelphia. The sculpture was commissioned by Joseph Bunford Samuel through a bequest that his wife, Ellen Phillips Samuel, made to the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), [1] specifying that the funds were to be used to create a series of sculptures "emblematic of the history of America." [2] Thorfinn Karlsefni (1915–1918) was installed along Philadelphia's Kelly Drive near the Samuel Memorial and unveiled on November 20, 1920. [3] The artwork is one of 51 sculptures included in the Association for Public Art's Museum Without Walls: AUDIO™ interpretive audio program for Philadelphia's outdoor sculpture. [4] There is another casting of the statue in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Iceland island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Einar Jónsson sculptor

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

Fairmount Park largest municipal park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the historic name for a group of parks located throughout the city

Fairmount Park is the largest municipal park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the historic name for a group of parks located throughout the city. Fairmount Park consists of two park sections named East Park and West Park, divided by the Schuylkill River, with the two sections together totalling 2,052 acres (830 ha). Management of Fairmount Park and the entire citywide park system is overseen by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, a city department created in 2010 from the merger of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Department of Recreation.


External media
Nuvola apps arts.svg Thorfinn Karlsefni (1915–1918), Association for Public Art, Audio only
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Thorfinn Karlsefni (1915–1918), Association for Public Art [5]

The inscription reads: (Sculpture, lower proper left:)
Einar Jonsson
(On back of Karlsefni's shield: Icelandic verse)
From the island of the North, of ice and snow,
Of blossoming valleys and blue mountains,
Of the midnight sun and the dreamy mists,
The home of the goddess of northern lights.
(Base, front:)
Thorfinn Karlsefni
(Base, front plaque:)
Following Leif Ericson's Discovery of
North America in 1003, Thorfinn Karlsefni
with 165 men and 35 women established a
settlement which lasted for 3 years and
his son Snorri was born in North America
Leif Ericson Society of Pennsylvania
Scandinavian Craft Club of Philadelphia
October 9, 1974 [6]

Thorfinn Karlsefni Icelandic explorer

Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelandic explorer. Around the year 1010 AD, he followed Leif Eriksson's route to Vinland, in a short-lived attempt to establish a permanent settlement there with his wife Guðríður Víðförla Þorbjarnardóttir and their followers.

Reykjavik version of the statue Statue by Einar Jonsson created 1915-1918 of Thorfinn Karlsefni.jpg
Reykjavík version of the statue


The Philadelphia located statue was toppled from its base and dragged into the Schuylkill River in the overnight hours between October 1 and 2, 2018. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles


Vinland, Vineland or Winland is the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings, where Leif Erikson first landed in ca. 1000, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. Vinland was the name given to North America as far as it was explored by the Norse, presumably including both Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as far as northeastern New Brunswick.

Leif Erikson Norse explorer, discoverer of New Foundland

Leif Erikson or Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer from Iceland. He was the first known European to have set foot on continental North America, before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. Later archaeological evidence suggests that Vinland may have been the areas around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and that the L'Anse aux Meadows site was a ship repair station.

Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir Icelandic explorer

Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir was a Norse explorer, born at Laugarbrekka in Snæfellsnes, Iceland.

<i>Saga of Erik the Red</i> literary work

Eiríks saga rauða or the Saga of Erik the Red is a saga, thought to have been composed before 1265, on the Norse exploration of North-America. Despite the name, the saga mainly chronicles the life and expedition of Thorfinn Karlsefni and his wife Gudrid, characters also seen in the Greenland saga. The saga also details the events that led to Erik the Red's banishment to Greenland and Leif Ericson's preaching of Christianity as well as his discovery of Vinland after his longship was blown off course. By geographical details, this place is thought to be present-day Newfoundland, and was probably the first European discovery of the American mainland, some five centuries before Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Antilles.

Skræling is the name the Norse Greenlanders used for the peoples they encountered in North America and Greenland. In surviving sources, it is first applied to the Thule people, the proto-Inuit group with whom the Norse coexisted in Greenland after about the 13th century. In the sagas, it is also used for the peoples of the region known as Vinland whom the Norse encountered during their expeditions there in the early 11th century.

Hannes Hafstein Icelandic politician

Hannes Þórður Pétursson Hafstein was an Icelandic politician and poet. In 1904 he became the first Icelander to be appointed to the Danish Cabinet as the Minister for Iceland in the Cabinet of Deuntzer and was – unlike the previous Minister for Iceland Peter Adler Alberti – responsible to the Icelandic Althing.

William Rush U.S. neoclassical sculptor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

William Rush was a U.S. neoclassical sculptor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is considered the first major American sculptor. Rush was born in Philadelphia, the fourth child of Joseph Rush, a ship's carpenter, and first wife, Rebecca Lincoln. As a teenager, he apprenticed three years with woodcarver Edward Cutbush, and soon surpassed his master in the art of carving of ships' figureheads in wood. He saw military service during the American Revolution, as an officer in the militia. He opened his own wood carving business, and was in great demand when the U.S. Navy began building ships on Philadelphia. Later in life, he took up sculpture. Rush was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and taught sculpture there. He was also active in local politics, serving on the Philadelphia City Council for two decades. Rush died in Philadelphia in 1833, and is buried at The Woodlands (Philadelphia).

Alexander Stirling Calder American artist

Alexander Stirling Calder was an American sculptor and teacher. He was the son of sculptor Alexander Milne Calder and the father of sculptor Alexander (Sandy) Calder. His best-known works are George Washington as President on the Washington Square Arch in New York City, the Swann Memorial Fountain in Philadelphia, and the Leif Eriksson Memorial in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Thorvald Eiriksson Icelandic explorer

Thorvald Eiriksson was the son of Erik the Red and brother of Leif Erikson. The only Medieval Period source material available regarding Thorvald Eiriksson are the two Vinland sagas; the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. Although differing in various detail, according to both sagas Thorvald was part of an expedition for the exploration of Vinland and became the first European to die in North America.

<i>Swann Memorial Fountain</i> fountain by Alexander Stirling Calder

The Swann Memorial Fountain is an art deco fountain sculpture located in the center of Logan Circle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

<i>Greenland saga</i> literary work

Grœnlendinga saga is one of the sagas of Icelanders. Along with Saga of Erik the Red, it is one of the two main literary sources of information for the Norse exploration of North America. It relates the colonization of Greenland by Erik the Red and his followers. It then describes several expeditions further west led by Erik's children and Þorfinnr "Karlsefni" Þórðarson.

3rd Sculpture International

3rd Sculpture International was a 1949 exhibition of contemporary sculpture held inside and outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It featured works by 250 sculptors from around the world, and ran from May 15 to September 11, 1949. The exhibition was organized by the Fairmount Park Art Association under the terms of a bequest made to the Association by the late Ellen Phillips Samuel.

Smith Memorial Arch

Smith Memorial Arch is an American Civil War monument at South Concourse and Lansdowne Drive in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Built on the former grounds of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, it serves as a gateway to West Fairmount Park. The Memorial consists of two colossal columns supported by curving, neo-Baroque arches, and adorned with 13 individual portrait sculptures ; two eagles standing on globes; and architectural reliefs of 8 allegorical figures.

Association for Public Art organization

Established in 1872 in Philadelphia, the Association for Public Art is the United States' first private, nonprofit public art organization dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning. The Association for Public Art (aPA) commissions, preserves, promotes and interprets public art in Philadelphia, and it is largely due to the work of the aPA that Philadelphia has one of the largest public art collections in the country. The aPA has acquired and commissioned works by many famous sculptors ; supported city planning projects; established an outdoor sculpture conservation program; and sponsored numerous publications, exhibitions, and educational programs. The aPA interprets and preserves more than 200 works of art throughout Philadelphia – working closely with the city's Public Art Office, Fairmount Park, and other organizations and agencies responsible for placing and caring for outdoor sculpture in Philadelphia – and maintains an inventory of all of the city's public art.

<i>James Garfield Memorial, Philadelphia</i> sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens

James Garfield Memorial is an outdoor sculpture of James Garfield by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, located in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park on Kelly Drive below the Girard Avenue Bridge. It is the second monument to be commissioned by the Association for Public Art. The Fairmount Park Art Association initiated a fund in 1881 for the creation of the memorial following the assassination of President James A. Garfield, and in 1889, Augustus Saint-Gaudens was selected for the commission. The monument was cast in 1895 and dedicated on May 30, 1896 by Mayor Charles F. Warwick. The dedication ceremony included a grand river fete with parades and a flotilla along the Schuylkill River. The monument is one of 51 sculptures included in the Association for Public Art's Museum Without Walls: AUDIO™ interpretive audio program for Philadelphia's outdoor sculpture.


  1. "Full text of "The Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni who Visited the Western Hemisphere in 1007"". Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  2. "Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden | Association for Public Art". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  3. "Interactive Art Map | Thorfinn Karlsefni | Association for Public Art". 1920-11-20. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  4. "Museum Without Walls". Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  5. "Thorfinn Karlsefni (1915–1918)". Museum Without Walls™. Association for Public Art . Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  6. "Thorfinn Karlsefni, (sculpture)". 1974-10-09. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  7. "Philly's Thorfinn Karlsefni Statue Toppled into Schuylkill River". NBC10 Philadelphia. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-02.