Sculpture of Thor’s battle with the giants

The sculpture of Thor’s battle with the giants (Danish: Thors Kamp med Jætterne) is one of the largest sculptures in Odense, Denmark.

Sculpture of Thor's battle with the giants
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The sculpture of Thor’s battle with the giants (Danish: Thors Kamp med Jætterne) is one of the largest sculptures in Odense, Denmark. It is is located outside Glud and Marstrand, the former Haustrup Factories on Næsbyvej. The sculpture has a fascinating history.

In the old Næsbyhoved Lake, where the large factory complex later came to be situated, there was originally a small island named Thorslund – a name that harks back to pagan times, when Thor was one of the most well-known gods in Norse mythology. The Norse pantheon was a focus of attention in the 19th century, when Danes were rediscovering their own ancient heritage, and this also inspired the artists of the time. The young sculptor C.J. Bonnesen (1868-1933) was quick to join this trend, creating a series of works marked by vigorous movement and bold composition. In 1897, he produced a sketch for a sculpture of Thor for brewer Carl Jacobsen. The sculpture was later cast in copper and can still be seen at Ny Carlsberg, and Bonnesen returned to Thor when, around the end of World War I, he received a commission from businessman Harald Plum, who had acquired the island of Thorø near Assens. The legend was that Thor had once lived on the island.

Reportedly, Bonnesen spent nearly four years modeling the sculpture group, Thor’s Battle with the Giants, in plaster, and then almost the same amount of time was spent casting it in bronze at a foundry in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. By July 3, 1926, the sculpture had progressed enough to be unveiled at the highest point of Thorø – and in the grand style of Harald Plum. Several hundred guests were ferried to the island aboard the steamship Alexandrine, and literature professor Hans Brix delivered a speech at the unveiling. This was followed by a dinner in Assens for the many guests, and the sculpture was illuminated in the evening by a large fireworks display.

After Harald Plum’s death in 1929, Thorø was sold to the Copenhagen Teachers’ Association, and it was this association that sold the Thor sculpture to director N.J. Haustrup in 1957. The actual relocation took place the following winter – and it was a massive undertaking. The move was overseen by director Hans Jørgensen (known as “Store-Hans”) from the construction company Hans Jørgensen & Søn, and it was necessary, among other things, to free Thor with his hammer by using a hammer and transport them separately – otherwise, the sculpture wouldn’t fit through the obstacles on the way from Thorøhuse to Odense. In some places, power lines had to be lifted with “forks,” and in other places, it was necessary to cut wires. The transportation took place on smooth roads at night.

Soon, the sculpture was reassembled and placed at Thorslund, and on the same occasion, Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, received a new covering of gold leaf. There was a sense of style about the whole endeavor. A couple of years later, Consul Haustrup wanted the monument raised so that it could be better seen in the area.

  • References

    image: “File:Thors kamp med jaetterne Odense 2015-DSC 4926.png” by Jens V. Sigersted is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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