The Einar Jónsson Museum opened in 1923 and is dedicated to the art of Iceland’s first sculptor, Einar Jónsson (1874-1954). The Museum was the first art museum opened in Iceland. It contains close to 300 artworks spanning his 60-year career. A beautiful garden, decorated with 26 bronze casts of Einar Jónsson’s works is located behind the museum.
Einar Jónsson laid the foundation for Icelandic sculpture with his first publicly exhibited work, Outlaws. He drew inspiration from the Icelandic folklore heritage as well as mythological and religious motifs. During his career, he emphasised the need for artists for forge their own path and cultivate their originality and imagination instead of following in the footsteps of others. His ideas were related to German symbolism, and he developed a figurative language composed of interpretable symbols, personification and allegory. Jónsson’s exposure to the ideas of the Swedish theosopher Emanuel Swedenborg in 1910 had a significant influence on his life and art. From that point on until the end of his life, he created figurative artworks whose complex symbolism was based on theosophy.
The building that houses the museum is called Hnitbjörg and was built after drawings from Einar Jónsson himself. He even chose the location for the museum, on a hill on the outskirts of town but at the time the location was the highest viewpoint of Reykjavík village.
The Einar Jónsson Museum is an interesting exploration of the works and career of a groundbreaking figure in Icelandic sculpture, his influence on the visual arts in Iceland is significant. No art enthusiast should miss out on this wonderful museum.