Viking, 1960

Viking, an Imaginative figure study, modeled in clay in North Haven, ME, 1960.

Those were the days when Allen participated in the summer art shows of the North Haven Art Association, acting for several years as its president around his retirement years. It is likely that Viking, in addition to the Tree Trunk and the Fisherman, was a piece he produced for the show. They were all meant to be interesting in composition and movement rather than in detail. Modeled in clay the year after the Fisherman, the style is somewhat impressionistic. The texture of the clay as he has handled it gives highlights off which the light can bounce better than smooth clay. The details are left loose and suggestive rather than “finished.” The face and headgear of the Viking is quite like that of the Fisherman with a hood, thick cap or scarf with long ends that hang down on either side of the face.

The physique of the man is muscular and defined, but lean. He holds the iconic round shield in his left hand, the straps hanging around his leg. Another belt or rope hitches up a length of what looks like a fur pelt around his hips, keeping his legs bare. A torn tunic drapes across his shoulders and chest as if he had just been fighting. He holds a sword in his right hand, the sign of a wealthier and more skillful warrior, its tip pointing behind him toward the ground by a straight arm as if in readiness to guard his position. Vikings were known to have long mustaches and hair but kept their beards short and neatly trimmed. His mustache is visible here and the long hair is suggested under the long headgear. Between his legs are perhaps the spoils of a battle of ships, a block and tackle, a large gear and a round container with a narrow neck like a canteen. He stands straddled confidently over his booty and ready for action on layers of rock or wood.

The composition is forceful and the figure moves. The pelt and headgear blow backward and his body leans forward. If it were seen in the round, it would keep your interest from all sides with the feet placed one in front of the other, the sword arm diagonally backward from shoulders and torso rotated and ready to unwind up and forward. The face looks diagonally left in the direction of his leading leg. There are repeating directional lines of movement from the headgear to the torn tunic to the hip pelt. The line of the right arm continues through the sword and is parallel to the right leg.

Written on the reverse of the photo in Agnes Allen’s handwriting is Viking – No Haven ¬– 1960 (Owned by Mrs. Strong)

The left arm balances it held straight and slightly behind him grasping his shield. The round motif is continued from the shield into the canteen and then onto the gear between his feet and the rock beneath it. The triangle formed by the legs provides a firm base, held solid by the square of the layers of stone beneath his feet. The whole composition is surprisingly positioned on the diagonal on a flat square block adding dimension and more rotating movement upward from the base.


Clay imaginative figure study, may have been cast in plaster
Note: The Fisherman was found in the Benson barn, owned by the Strongs and gifted to Christina Abbott by Peter Strong. The Viking may once have been in the same barn.
May have been exhibited at the North Haven summer art show.

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