The First Paid Artist in Iceland

I was lucky enough to go to Iceland on a tour the last two weeks-ish of May. 

Museums aren't everyone's idea of a good time, but every good tour takes you to at least one. We had a free day in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and our Viking tour guide, Gudny Margret, sent us to the Icelandic National Museum. 

This is where I discovered the first known artist in Iceland who lived at least partially by the sale of his art: Brynjolfuir Jonsson. 

There isn't much information available about him (at least in English), but as you can see from the single object of his displayed in the museum, his work was exquisite. 

People (especially artists) often say "Art is a Luxury." I disagree. Iceland in 1598 was a tiny country of people living in turf (i.e. dirt) huts. Probably not a lot of extra spending money lying around. But someone, somehow, found enough to buy this drinking horn. The museum exhibit goes on to say that Jonsson and his work was well-known in the country when he was alive. 

Your art practice may not encompass carving drinking horns (or maybe it does...). But the next time someone says 'art is a luxury,' you can site Jonsson's work as an example that disputes this adage. 

I'm not going to go out and drop $50K on a painting. Maybe ever. But the paintings in my house, which cost substantially less, have a profound impact on my feeling of well-being when I'm home. I enjoy looking at it and feeling the feelings each piece evokes. In my house art is a necessity.

What's your relationship with art? Is it a necessity to you? Why or why not? I'd love to hear. Comment below.