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'The Odin Cabinet'
A painted pine cupboard, circa 1890-1900
Designed by Lars Trondson Kinsarvik (1846-1925)
and made in his carving workshop in Kinsarvik Norway.
Provenance: Norwegian private collection until early 2020.
This hanging cupboard features a central panel that depicts the Norse God Odin in his guise as a peasant and wanderer. Odin famously had as many names as faces, this cabinet features ten different faces or masks as part of the carved decoration.
Designed in the Dragon Style (or Drak stil or Viking Revival), a style that grew in Scandinavia in the 1860's (and well into the 20th century) from a sense of national pride for their viking heritage. The style was applied to Architecture, and the fine and decorative arts (see our Swedish candlesticks for an example of high quality metalwork).
Lars Kinsarvik was the most influential of the designer/makers reviving nordic heritage by producing interiors and furniture in the drak stil. His workshop furnished and decorated numerous hotels, churches, cafes and homes. The highly regarded Norwegian sculptors Ingebrigt Vik (1867-1927) and Lars Utne (1862-1922) both began their careers as apprentices in the Kinsarvik carving workshop along with another wood carver to later find fame in his own right, Magnus Dagestad (1865-1957).
From 1886 Lars Trondson Kinsarvik was sponsored by the state to teach woodcarving at his home in Kinsarvik with exhibitions of the student's work held at the Museum of Industrial Art, this continued until 1890.
It wasn't until 1890 that he started to paint his work. From 1896 he started receiving commissions for entire suites of painted furniture, the first of these was for the New Hardanger Hotel following a fire that destroyed the old hotel on the same site in 1895.
In 1900 Kinsarvik represented Norway at the Paris Exhibition at a time when Norway was ruled by Sweden, Norwegian manufacturers and designers insisted on a Norwegian pavilion separate to that of Sweden's. Norway's enthusiasm for their vernacular design was powerfully linked to their struggle for independence, which finally came in 1905.
However, by 1905 Kinsarvik himself was struggling to make enough to get by, the fashion for the items made in the style he helped create was waning and in 1915 failing eyesight forced him to stop. Even when completely blind he continued to lecture right up to a few years before his death in 1925.
Examples of Furniture from Kinsarvik's workshop are in the public collections of:
to name just two in Norway
A Swedish Legacy, Decorative Arts 1700-1960, in the collection of the National Museum Stockholm, Scala Books, 1998.
Arnfinn Engen, Kinsarvik, The Creator of the Norwegian Style in the New Woodcarving Art, local history publisher A. S. Thorsrund, Lillehammer, 1996.
Bjarne Sørensen, Kinsarvik, Norwegian Court Scandal and the Hardanger Folk Museum, Hardanger History Society Magazine 1996.
Lars Kinsarvik, An exhibition at the artist's 150th anniversary. Hardanger Folk Museum April 27th to September 15th 1996.
Ingri Skou, Two Norwegian Wood carvers, Ole Moene and Lars Kinsarvik, C. Huitfeldt Forlag A. S. Oslo, 1991.
Anne Britt Ylvisåker, Husflid Living Traditions, Grondahl Dreyer, 1994.