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The Icelandic Book of Drawings

An exhibition in English dedicated to the Icelandic Book of Drawings (1330–1550) at Harpa, 1 July – 15 August 2016

The Icelandic Book of Drawings is a manuscript now preserved in the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík. It is unique among Icelandic medieval manuscripts and one of about three dozen extant model books in Western Europe. The book has international relevance and value as a cultural artefact, due to the rarity of comparable manuscripts.


For artists, a book of models was a tool as necessary as brush and paints. The drawings were intended to serve as models in various kinds of art, predominantly on Christian themes. The models in the Icelandic Book of Drawings cast a unique light on Christian iconography of the Middle Ages and the Icelandic artistic heritage. They were made by four unidentified artists in the period 1330–1500. The book came into existence by stages, and its arrangement evolved over time.


The exhibition is in English and presents all the models in the book, explaining their iconography, development and style. Facsimiles of several leaves of the manuscript are also on display. The exhibition is curated by art historian Guðbjörg Kristjánsdóttir and is based on her long term research.


Opening hours: 10–18 daily

Admission: ISK 1500