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An 11th Century Byzantine Last Judgement in Iceland – Selma Jónsdóttir´s doctoral thesis

Selma Jónsdóttir (22 August 1917 – 5 July 1987) was the first Icelander to finish a degree in Art History and the first woman to receive a doctorate from the University of Iceland. 

Selma finished an undergraduate degree in Art History from Columbia University in New York in 1944. She continued her studies at Columbia as well as at the Warburg Institute in London, receiving a Master’s degree in Art History in 1949. Her thesis got wide recognition and was published in The Art Bulletin in September 1950. Selma was a specialist in medieval art and a real pioneer in that area. She defended her thesis on medieval art in Iceland and its connection to Byzantan art in January 1960. AB press in Reykjavik published her thesis.

When Selma arrived in Iceland in 1950, fresh from her studies abroad, she became the director of the Art Museum of Iceland, a position she held until her death in 1987.

Selma is remembered in collaboration with the Women’s History Archives in Iceland, the National Gallery of Iceland, the Association for Art Historians in Iceland and Borgarnes Museum.

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