The wild Hunt of Odin

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The wild Hunt of Odin
Norwegian: Åsgårdsreien
La caza salvaje de Odín, por Peter Nicolai Arbo.jpg
ArtistPeter Nicolai Arbo
Year1872 (1872)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions166 cm × 240.5 cm (65 in × 94.7 in)
LocationNational Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo
WebsiteNasjonalmuseet Collection online

The wild Hunt of Odin (Norwegian: Åsgårdsreien) is an 1872 painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo. It is in the collection of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo.


The painting is based on the Wild Hunt motif from folklore and Norse mythology. In the Scandinavian tradition, the Wild Hunt is often associated with the god Odin who leads a terrifying procession of gods, trolls and restless souls that hurl across the sky during midwinter and abduct unfortunate people who have failed to find a hiding place. In the Norwegian material, those who have been named as the leader of the hunt include Lussi, sometimes identified as Adam's first wife, and Guro Rysserova, a supernatural female being with a mysterious male companion.[1] The folklorist Christine N. F. Eike has argued that the motif might have its origin in European traditions where young, unmarried men wear masks and move in processions during Christmastide.[2]

Most directly, Arbo's painting was based on Johan Sebastian Welhaven's romantic poem Asgaardsreien, with the opening lines "Through the nightly air stampedes a train of frothing black horses". The poem is about a Christmas wedding that turns violent and is visited by the Wild Hunt. In Welhaven's version the hunt includes the god Thor, who is seen in the painting with his hammer and his chariot pulled by two goats. It is also likely that Arbo was familiar with writings about the Wild Hunt by the folklorist Peter Christen Asbjørnsen.[3]

The wild Hunt of Odin was painted in Paris in 1872 and bought by the National Museum in Oslo the same year. Norsk kunstnerleksikon describes it as Arbo's "chief work" and compliments its "true, dramatic pathos" and "rich and imaginative composition".[4]


The Swedish metal band Bathory used Arbo's painting on the cover of the album Blood Fire Death (1988). This established the Wild Hunt as a popular motif in metal music in general and black metal and pagan metal in particular.[5]


  1. ^ Løwe 2012 p. 40-34
  2. ^ Løwe 2012 p. 4-5
  3. ^ Ellen J. Lerberg. Peter Nicolai Arbo, The wild Hunt of Odin. National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design.
  4. ^ Peter Nicolai Arbo (in Norwegian). Norsk kunstnerleksikon.
  5. ^ Florian Heesch, Reinhard Kopanski. 2017. "Klang - Text - Bild: Intermediale Aspekte der Black Metal-Forschung". ed. Sarah Chaker, Jakob Schermann, Nikolaus Urbanek. Analyzing Black Metal - Transdisziplinäre Annäherungen an ein düsteres Phänomen der Musikkultur. Transcript Verlag. pp. 29-33. ISBN 978-3-8376-3687-1

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