Themes in Old Norse Mythological Art
HOLY CATS!
Historical Images of
Freyja's Chariot



"And when she travels she drives two cats and sits in a chariot,"
Gylfaginning 24


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Historical Illustrations
of Freyja's Chariot 1780-Present
Also see: Freyja and her Necklace Brisingamen &
Freyja's Fressa: A Car Drawn by Cats?


From the First Muse

 
 
"In 1778 Johannes Ewald’s singspiel Balders Død was performed in Copenhagen, and this inspired the sculptor Wiedewelt to make a series of 72 sketches, among which this one of Freyja seated on a chariot drawn by cats — a subject not often attempted since cats are hard to present convincingly as draught animals (4)." 

—Hans Kuhn, Greek Gods in Northern Costumes (2000)

1780 Johannes Wiedewelt
 
 
In the 1820s, Finnur Magnússon reported a conversation that he had had with the great sculptor Bertil Thorvaldsen on the subject—unprovoked, as he emphasized:
"Objections have been made to unsightly elements in Freya’s team of beasts [i.e., the cats to which her car was harnessed], and at first glance these do not seem groundless; but one of the greatest artists of our land and age, namely, Thorvaldsen, declared to me orally, and without any prompting from my side, that he did find that objection groundless. A soulful artist would know how to portray Freya’s cats with beautiful tiger-like forms, and moreover with a character of a sort that could interest a thinking onlooker."
The Mythology Feud (1812-1821) by Kira Kofoed, 2014 at The Thorvaldsen's Museum Archives 
 

    


1831 Artist Unknown
Author: Gustav T. Legis


 

1837 Leopold Ziegelhauser
Allgemeine Populäre Götterlehre

   

1850 Robert Müller
from the Fresco Cycle "Aus dem Sagenkreis der Edda"
 
in the Neues Museum, Berlin. The fresco was damaged in WWII
 and abandoned until the unification of Germany.
 Right: B & W photo from 1928
Left: After Restoration in 2001


Freyr on Gullinbursti— The Sons of Ivaldi — Freyja and her Cats

  

Detail Freyja Persues her husband Odur


    


Odur

Freyja
 


    

1852 Nils Blommér

 

1865 Ludwig Pietsch



1869 Artist Unknown
George Eastman Collection Lantern Slide




1881 David Murray Smith

   

1883 Jessie MacGregor
Sketch for the Painting "Freyja's Quest"




1884 Johann Gehrts




1885 Lorenz Frölich
(Top Panel)


Before 1886 Artist Unknown


1889

 

1893 B.L. "Freyja's Cats"



1894 Liebig Meat Extract Ad

 


1901 H.L.M



1905 Carl Emil Doepler ('the younger')
  



1909 Maria Klugh
 
 

1909 John P. Edmison
   


1920 Donn T. Crane



1930 Charles E. Brock


1930 Katharine Pyle

   
   
1967 Ingri and Edgar Darin D'Aulaire
 


1978 Giovanni Casselli
 



1981 Swedish Stamp


1995 Kris Waldherr


F is for Freyja
by Marfknox-on-Etsy


 by Mitzi Sato-Wiuff
AuroraWings.com


2007 Mickie Mueller
 

Sandlady's Art 2008



2009 Woodwose at Deviant Art



Rinisyou on DeviantArt 2010




Freya's Chariot
2012 Cat Parade, Leper, Belgium

 



2013 Howard David Johnson
HowardDavidJohnson.com



2015 Dani Kaulakis




2015 Christina Balit




Freyr and Freyja
by
Igor Ozhiganov
   
STRAY CATS
 ARTISTS UNKNOWN
If you can identify the artist, please contact me

    





THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
Earlier Images Related to this Tradition



Witch Riding a Cat
 Schleswiger Cathedral, c. 12th century


Album Amicorum of Juliana de Roussel, 1669
Venus in her Car drawn by Cats

THE VENUS WAGON

The following image of Freyja's Chariot by Henry Justice Ford  doesn't follow the traditional Nordic sources, in that he has her chariot pulled by swans.  However, he seems to have merely substituted Freyja from the Greco-Roman goddess Venus or Aphrodite. An image of the goddess Venus in her wagon pulled by geese appeared in several early sources that described Germanic Gods. Through interpretatio romana, Venus was identified with the Germanic goddess Frija (identified as Frigg or Freyja) in the 4th century transliteration of the weekdays where the Latin dies Veneris became the English Friday. In Greek Mythology Aphrodite's chariot was drawn by doves or swans. She is sometimes depicted riding a goose or swan side-saddle.


The Golden Chariot of Freya 



1492 Conrad Bote 
Cronecken der Sassen
The Saxon Chronicle 


1588 Johannes Pomarius
 Chronika der Sachsen und Niedersachsen 
The Chronicle of Saxony and Lower Saxony 



1691 Trogillus Arnkiel's
 Cimbrische Heyden-Religion
The Cimbrish Heathen Religion
 
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