About this artwork
Poet and scholar Thomas Gray’s The Descent of Odin (published 1768), a loose translation of an Old Norse poem, inspired this strange image—an exercise in nearly pure wash devoid of line. Fuseli’s drawing depicts the Norse god Odin descending into the underworld to learn the fate of his beloved son Balder. The arms emerging from the ground belong to the prophetess with whom Odin consults. Above is a vision of the Valkyries mourning at Balder’s tomb.
Fuseli’s image of Odin is a clever adaptation of Michelangelo’s God Dividing the Land and the Water, a fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome.
- Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Henry Fuseli
- Odin in the Underworld
- England (Artist's nationality)
- Brush and gray wash and graphite, with touches of pen and brown ink and red chalk, on cream laid paper
- 58.6 × 44.4 cm (23 1/8 × 17 1/2 in.)
- The Leonora Hall Gurley Memorial Collection