About this project

This website can be perceived as the appendix to my PhD research with the title Scandinavism: overlapping and competing identities in the Nordic world, 1770-1919. I study Scandinavism as a primarily cultural movement, which, notwithstanding its failure as a political mobilizer, strengthened and extended national consciousness-raising in the various Scandinavian nationalities by stressing common ethnolinguistic, mythological and historical roots.

The main research questions are as follows:

1. How did Scandinavism contribute to the formulation of a transnational Scandinavian identity, transcending and supplanting the nation-building projects in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden?

2. How did Scandinavian identity formation interact with the various nationally-specific manifestations of cultural nationalism?

Inventorying Scandinavian historicist art

The cultural rapprochement between the Scandinavian countries was fundamentally inspired by ideas of common ancestral roots and a shared historical destiny. This vision of tight historical entanglement remained dominant throughout the nineteenth century. The focus in answering the two research questions is therefore on historicism: the use of history as a marker of national identity. Owing to the great discursive power of the Scandinavian narrative, it was in the scholarly and creative engagement with the past that notions of national and Scandinavian identity often intersected and that a relation between these two levels of identity needed to be negotiated.

In order to discern trends in the artistic cultivation of the (pan-)national past, I inventoried a total of 670 literary works and 915 visual art works, written, painted, or molded by a Scandinavian artist between 1770 and 1919 (i.e. ‘The Long 19th Century’). These art works have in common that they narrate or depict one or more episodes/persons from Scandinavian history.

Each art work has been categorized using 5 different tags:

  1. Year of production/publication
  2. Name of creator
  3. Title
  4. Nationality of creator
  5. Historical period thematized

Regarding that last tag, Scandinavian history has been divided into five major periods based on a thorough review of nineteenth-century popular history books and school textbooks covering Scandinavian history in its entirety (in contrast to more traditional national histories). This periodization is as follows:

  1. Norse Antiquity (until ca. 800)
  2. Viking Age (ca. 800 – 1050)
  3. High Middle Ages (1050 – 1319)
  4. Union Period (1319 – 1523)
  5. Age of Discord (1523 – 1814)

More information on this periodization can be found on this page.

The criteria used for the inclusion of art works on the list can be found here for literature and here for the visual arts.

About the Databases

In order to provide insight into my databases, and my methods in general, I decided to build this website rather than to banish the inventories to two thick appendices to my dissertation that, in all likelihood, no one would read (and why would you?). The format of a website has the great benefit of adding some colour and depth to an otherwise boring list. On an admittedly irregular basis, articles will be published here, providing additional information on art works, artists, and motifs.

In time, this website will hopefully offer a double perspective on the rich and exciting history of the Scandinavian countries. On the one hand, it will contain a history of nineteenth-century historicst art and literature in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; on the other hand, the website will paint a general history of Scandinavia from the perspective of these nineteenth-century cultural products.

The two databases have been organized in three ways:

  1. Chronologically
  2. Per author/artist
  3. Per motif (i.e., the historical person or episode thematized)


I welcome suggestions for additions to the list as well as contributions by guest authors. I can be contacted through e-mail: timotheus.vangerven@gmail.com.

© Tim van Gerven, 2018

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