Den Nye Studenterforenings Nordiske Højtid
"The New Student Association's Nordic Festival"
Copenhagen, Denmark

Wall-Banners of the Norse Gods Seated for the Feast by
Johan Thomas Lundbye (1818-1848)
 Peter Christian Thamsen Skovgaard (1814-1875)
and Lorenz Frølich
Published in Mindeblade om den Nordiske Høitid
Souvenir Book of the Nordic Festival, 13 January 1845
An Autograhie of Frølich, Lundbye and Skovgaard

J. Th. Lundbye

J. Th. Lundbye
Self-Portrait 1836
P.C. Skovgaard

Lorenz Frølich
drawn by P.C. Skovgaard 1845

Lorenz Frølich

Lorens Frølich

drawn by J. Th. Lundbye, 1838

In the summer of 1836, Lorenz Frølich in the company of his father made a trip to Holland to study Art.  Høyen, who had had the great pleasure to show him paintings in Haarlem and Amsterdam, referred to him as an utterly enchanting young man, "who promises to be something of an artist." At that time, Frølich was already a promising young artist. His youthful drawings of leaping horses and other animals are admirable. In 1838, he made his debut at the exhibition with four pictures of animals —the same year he won Johan Thomas Lundbye's faithful friendship. Both were genuine nature artists, both dreamers and enthusiasts of the Icelandic sagas, for Grundtvig, for poetry, for antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Lundbye spent his happiest hours in Frølich's Company. He was much more influenced by Frølich than Frølich was influenced by him. It is probably Frølich, who first experimented with the decorative intertwined animals with which Lundbye, who also had an excellent sense of the purely decorative, so often framed his drawings.  In 1840, Frølich travelled to Germany, where he underwent training, first in Munich and later in Dresden. He found German Art more akin to his own style than the Arts which reigned in Denmark.

In late summer 1844 Frølich returned home to the great delight of Lundbye. Arm in arm they walked, as they took long tours on foot to Grundtvig Lectures, also to see Grundtvig himself, and on the 13th of January 1845 —the last day of Christmas and the momentous day when the light came back to the North— for the great "Nordic feast" held by the Student Association which was simultaneously celebrated in Christiania, Upsala and Lund.
"Skovgaard, Frølich and I", Lundbye says in his diary, "did take upon ourselves to decorate the Rifleman’s Hall with pictures of the Nordic gods, which, with the exception of Loki, were all composed by Frølich. Loki was executed by Skovgaard, from his own concept of him. It was a merry effort; we started on Thursday the 11th and had finished by Sunday evening with 11 large cartoons of the gods in supernatural size, all seated; Frølich happily drafted and finished their heads, and when he had worked himself to exhaustion, took a different tone, with song and merriment flowing cheerfully from him." 

"The Norse gods were chosen as motifs for Skovgaard's, Lundbye's and Lorenz Frølich's  collective decoration of the banqueting hall of the Rifle Range on the occassion of the Scandinavian Students' Conference on 13 January 1845. Frølich was presumably the driving force behind the decoration, while Skovgaard made his original contribution with Loki, who differs from the other gods by departing from the strictly frontal representation and motion of the figure. Among the gods of the North, large Danish flags were hung."

The Danish part of the celebration was organized by the Student Association and took place in the building of the Royal Shooting Society, Copenhagen’s current City Museum since 1956. The decorations emphasized the solemn nature of the event. Frølich, Lundbye and Skovgaard had made chalk drawings of the Aesir gods in great size. The drawings were surrounded by pine garlands that hung down the walls. In the chamber's upper end shone Bissen’s white Valkyrie leaning forward from a grand cavern and a lower niche was covered with a large image representing Starkodder, Orvar Odd and Holger the Dane back to back. Over the tables waved the Nordic flag. The painted portion of this holistic décor was the ten depictions of Norse gods. None of them is preserved, but the characters were drawn on lithographic paper and later published in a monumental book. Skovgaard is considered to be the artist of Loki, while Lundbye designed all of the frames and the Heimdal figure. Yet according to P. Johansen: "Lundbye did the characters Odin, Frigga, Freyr, Freya, Brage, Ydun, Heimdall, Ørvarodd, Holger the Dane and Stærkodd; Frølich has drawn Thor, Balder and Loki "(!!).

Their original illustrations are lost, but the artists reproduced them in the pages of a commemorative prints titled  Mindeblade om den nordiske Høitid 13. Januar 1845 ("Souvenir-book of the Nordic Festival. 13 January 1845"), a big and beautiful Autograph printed by Bing and Ferslew, Copenhagen in folio format with a lithographed cover and a total of 11 lithographed plates with reproductions of Norse gods, created to commemorate the Den Nye Studenterforenings Nordiske Højtid ("The New Student Association's Nordic Festival"). This memorial is the only visible remains of the great solemnity of the Student Association, which in 1845 marked the high point of Danish Student Scandinavianism.  The illustration on the cover depicts the banqueting hall with the images hung as described above. The 12 prints, 11 of which are of Norse gods, are listed as:

"SKYDEBANENS STORE SAL" (The Rifle Range's Great Hall)



The Rifle Range's Great Hall decorated for the feast.
Portraits of  Odin and Frigg flank H.W. Bissen's Valkyrie in central niche.

Freyr, Idunn and Thor can be identified in the banners to the left.

Norse Gods Seated for the Feast
Surviving Sketches

Heimdall by J. Th. Lundbye (1837)

Freyr by J. Th. Lundbye (1837)

Odin by Lorenz Frølich

Thor by Lorenz Frølich
Design sketches of Odin showing the development of the finished illustration (above, left)

Idun by Lorenz Frølich

Loki by P.C. Skovgaard

The following are miscellaneous design sketches by Lorenz Frølich, which appear to be
 part of this collection, held by the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum Kunst and SMK).


Freyja with bear

Sketch of Freyja with bears

based on the then-contemporary debate
regarding "
Freyja's fressa" (cats or bears)

Sketch of Freyja with cat

Arrow-Odd, Holger the Dane, and Stærkodd


Frigg and Gersemi (Freyja's daughter)
The spindle was depicted with 3 stars
as in the constellation Friggjar rök (Orion's Belt)
Sketch for Heimdal
by Lorenz Frølich
by Lorenz Frølich
In 1845, the young archeologist Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae delivered the opening speech at the great “Nordic Festival for the Commemoration of the Ancestral Fathers”, at which the National Liberal elite assembled for the purpose of promoting the idea of a united North. The scene was elaborately set with suitably “Nordic” decorations completed in just four days by the young artists Lorenz Frölich, Johan Thomas Lundbye and Peter Christian Skovgaard. Eleven huge, neo- Nordic representations of the gods adorned the walls and were a tremendous success, so much so that they were later published as a special edition booklet that was to gain wide circulation. N.F.S. Grundtvig was present, and the speakers drank tirelessly in turn from the so-called Bragisbæger, a silver drinking horn specially made for the occasion.  The feast is remembered fondly:

"There were candlesticks and good food on the tables, singalongs at dinner, giant wall decorations and special guests like pastor and hymn writer N.F.S. Grundtvig, who is also deeply interested in common Nordic history and Nordic culture.  According to the newspaper, The Fatherland, the speeches were good, and undoubtedly the food and beer were excellent, but what made the event noteworthy was the decoration. At this party, a popular visual resentation of the Nordic Viking  was quite literally created. Three young painters, Lorenz Frolich, P.C. Skovgaard and J.Th. Lundbye, were in charge of the decoration, which consisted of a number of meters tall cartoons, depicting gods and heroes from Nordic pre-history. The heroes Ørva-odd, Holger the Dane, and Stærkodd stood side-by-side in one of the cartons. They were armed with bow and arrow, sword and ax, and portrayed with fixed eyes and authoritative expressions. The other ten cartons showed Norse gods. The figures on the cartons were completely different than the type we are used to seeing. They are not overtly graceful or elegant and were far from the ancient ideal man, as visual art has previously portrayed them. These new heroes have power, a steely gaze and a touch of the rural. One no longer sees supple and elegant gods and heroes, but rather strong, robust and determined figures, who look like the hardworking Zealand fisherman or Jutland peasant. It is the dawn of the Nordic brand." 

Frölich’s many illustrations of historical and archaeological works were to make an indelible mark on how the North was perceived and Lundbye's renderings of the zoomorphic ornamentation of the Viking Age was to inspire the so-called dragon style that was to gain popularity in the latter half of the 19th century. Examples of this style can be studied in the buildings around Holmenkollen in Oslo. Another expression of Nordic movement was the establishment at the University of Copenhagen in 1845 of a professorial chair in Old Norse language and mythology and the first Danish steam locomotive in 1846 being named Odin.

J. Th. Lundbye
by P.C. Skovgaard, 1848.

P.C. Skovgaard
Later in Life

Lorenz Frølich
Later in Life
P.C. Skovgaard went on to become a famous painter of landscapes, while Lorenz Frølich went on to produce a prolific portfolio of Norse related art. In the early spring of 1848, Th. Lundbye volunteered to serve in the military, he died in battle later that year.
For more detail of the published drawings also visit
Souvenir Book of the Nordic Festival, 13 January 1845
An Autograhie of Frølich, Lundbye and Skovgaard