Johannes Wiedewelt
Illustrations for Johannes Ewald's  'Balders Død'
A sampling of the 72 drawings

Wiedewelt was the first Danish artist to study Nordic prehistory and Antiquities in the Royal Kunstkammer in order to create a more realistic Nordic environment in his works. In 1794 he exhibited plaster busts of Danish legendary kings. The busts no longer survive, but the drawings have been preserved, among them a fantasy portrait of Gorm the Old. Wiedewelt acquired several historical works for his studies, among them antiquarian Peter Frederik Suhm's popular work of 1771, Om Odin og den hedniske Gudelære, and Professor Ole Worm's work on the Danish monuments dating from 1643, it is also possible that he had access to Stephen Johannis Stephanius' version of Saxo from 1645. A series of sketches made in the 1780s for the poet Johannes Ewald's drama 'Balder's Death' is clearly inspired by the pictures on Harald Bluetooth's large rune stone, which appeared in Ole Worm's work. [ Source]
"Wiedewelt was among those who created the visual expression to [the] Nordic trends in the Høegh-Guldberg period, but the ideas had already surfaced earlier—in those literary circles which had undertaken to publish the Icelandic manuscripts that Árni Magnússon had donated to the University of Copenhagen in 1730. In 1760 a foundation was established for the purpose, but the frequent meetings and systematic publication was commenced in 1770 under Struensee. Wiedewelt's task was to furnish frontispieces.

"...More collaborations with literary circles, as well as work on illustrations and vignettes, was to come, and from the 1770s onwards Wiedewelt also amused himself by working on several literary drafts. He wrote humerous texts for musical soirées and parties, mostly parodies with ancient mythological themes.

"...In 1773, the poet Johannes Ewald (1743-1781) composed his Saxo-inspired heroic poem Balders Død. It was published in 1775, when also the Danish Literature Society was founded among a circle of Ewald's admirers. Wiedewelt had plans of illustrating it: he made seventy-two watercolored drawings in an album entitled 'Balder's Death in the Year 315'. He aimed at 'a diversity in costume and armour', mixing Nordic peasant clothing with antique elements— for want of better models."   — Marjatta Neilsen (2010).
Along with Wiedewelt's actual illustrations for "Baldur's Death" are a series of single drawings of the gods. There is Odin with his wolves and ravens, Frigga, Freya, Thor and Freyr on their chariots, and the Norns with a miserable little Ygdrasil. Some of these drawings carry a reference to Saxo. [Source] 
Odin, his wolves called Geri and Freki, and the ravens Hugin and Munin


Freya and her car drawn by cats 
Thor in his Chariot

Freyr and Gullinbursti 

The Norner: Urd, Verdandi and Skuld 






Balder and Nanna
Thor and Balder

Loki and Balder

Hodur and Nanna 

The Three Witches in the Wood
Saxo Book 3

Hodur and the Witches in the Wood
Saxo Book 3

The Three Witches

Mimmung with the invincible sword and ring of wealth
Saxo Book 3


Nanna's Father, Gevar


The Great Balder Dead!

Fridlev kills the Dragon, Saxo Book 6 
Danmarks KunstBiblioteks / Denmark's Art Library
holds the following works by this artist:

C. 20 "Baldur's Death", 72 Sketches
C. 20, 1-38 Balder's Death 912-2124, herein "Jelling Christ motif"
C. 20, 39-72 Topics from Norse mythology
shelf 157: C.20, no. 1 mounted in Mat
shelf 157: C.20, no. 6 mounted in Mat
shelf 157: C.20, no. 41 mounted in Mat
shelf 157: C.20, no. 42 mounted in Mat
shelf 157: C.20, no. 46 mounted in Mat

See also: Johannes Ewald's Balders Død