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Nína Tryggvadóttir's altarpiece

The mosaic in Skálholt Cathedral is by the artist Nína Tryggvadóttir (1913-1968). The altarpiece is by Nína Tryggvadóttir and was installed in the church in 1966, 3 years after its dedication.


Nína worked on the piece for quite some time, and visited Skálholt on numerous occcations to get inspiration. She was in close contact with Bishop Sigurbjörn Einarsson regarding the final implementation of the work. There are sketches that show the development process, but Nína herself wrote, among other things, during it: "I think that this image that represents Christ appearing as a kind of spirit in the Icelandic landscape will be the most beautiful on the wall. The idea is that a blurred or half-airy image of Christ appears in a summer landscape, and I think it will be better than a very formal image."


The mosaic portrait of Nina in Skálholtskirkja is a treasure that attracts a lot of attention from visitors. The technique of the work imitates brushstrokes and it is like the chancel of the church opens and Christ stands outside in the landscape and invites people to come to him.

Nína Tryggvadóttir was born in Seyðisfjörður but later moved to Reykjavík with her family. In 1933, Nína began to study painting with painters Finn Jónsson and Jóhann Briem, and in 1935 she moved to Copenhagen, where she studied art until 1939. She held her first solo exhibition in Reykjavík in 1942, nine years before the Icelandic Art Museum was founded.


In the years 1943-1946, Nína studied art with the painter Hans Hofmann in New York. She also lived for a while in London with her husband, Alfred L. Copley, before they finally moved to New York in 1959. She made many works of art during her career, mainly watercolors, but also mosaics for Hótel Loftleiðir and Landsbankinn.

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