Thor's Fight with the Giants
Thor's Fight with the Giants (Swedish: Tors strid med jättarna) is an 1872 painting by the Swedish artist Mårten Eskil Winge. It depicts the Norse god Thor in a battle against the jötnar. The thunder god rides his chariot pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, wears his belt Megingjörð and swings his hammer Mjölnir. The painting was made using oil on canvas, has the dimensions 484 x 333 centimeters and belongs to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Winge was a professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, where history painting was regarded as the most important genre of art. He also belonged to the Swedish national liberal movement in which Norse myths and legends were frequently used as motifs. The painting was finished in 1872 and bought by king Charles XV, who died the same year and bequeathed it to Nationalmuseum.
The painting was exhibited publicly at Nationalmuseum in 1872. It was received positively in the press and immediately drew large crowds, creating queues that could take hours to get through. The young August Strindberg wrote a positive review where he interpreted the motif as a depiction of truth's struggle against the lie.
In the 20th century the painting became popular among contemporary nationalists. The art historian Per Hedström wrote in Dagens Nyheter in 1992 that the painting, which was no longer exhibited publicly, had become popular among skinheads. Hedström wrote that the dark jötnar could be interpreted as immigrants, and speculated that the swastika on Thor's belt might add further to the appeal. Hedström wrote: "So can the meaning of an image shift from being a symbol for liberty and enlightenment to becoming a symbol for xenophobia and right-wing extremism. From being an image for an elite to becoming a cult image within a subculture."
- Swastika (Germanic Iron Age), appearing on Thor's belt in this painting, the symbol appears throughout the archaeological record of the ancient Germanic peoples
- Hedström, Per (1992-09-27). "Galleriet". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2016-03-02.
Så kan en bilds betydelse förskjutas från att vara en symbol för frihet och upplysning till att bli en symbol för främlingsfientlighet och högerextremism. Från att vara en bild för en elit till att bli en kultbild inom en subkultur.
- "Tor's Fight with the Giants". Nationalmuseum. Retrieved 2016-03-02.