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Tryggvi Magnússon´s drafts for the Icelandic Republic´s Coat of Arms

A great number of drawings by Tryggvi Magnússon are kept in the Manuscript Department of the National and University Library of Iceland. Tryggvi was one of the best known artists in Iceland in the first half of the 20th century. Besides illustrating books and journal issues he designed playing cards with characters from the Sagas, the emblem of the 1000 years Celebration of Parliament in 1930, emblems of different counties or places, banknotes and stamps with the wights of Iceland originating from Snorri Sturluson´s Heimskringla.

When the resurrection of the republic in 1944 was getting closer, the prime minister, Björn Þórðarson, gave the task of designing a new coat of arms to three Secretaries of State, Vigfús Einarsson, Agnar Kl. Jónsson and Birgir Thorlacius, along with Matthías Þórðarson, the director of the National Museum, who had been an advisor when the coat of arms was drawn by Ríkarður Jónsson in 1919. Matthías had been an intermediary in asking many of the nation´s  most prominent artists to to present some proposals of a new coat of arms, the so called Coat of arms of the Republic.

Tryggvi Magnússon´s proposal was selected and presented  as the Coat of arms of the Icelandic Republic in a cabinet meeting on the 17th of June 1944. The crown was removed and the shape of the shield was changed. The bearers were drawn differently and also the base under the badge.  When designing the base Tryggvi had in mind the columnar basalt „church floor“ at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The original drawing and the proposals are conserved in the National Museum, but other drawings are stored privately in The National and University Library of Iceland

An exhibition on Tryggvi Magnússon and the coat of arms is open through January at the Library:


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