Our art

Hotel Holt is in fact an art museum in a hotel where you’ll find part of the largest private collection of Icelandic art.

A Passion for collection

Þorvaldur Guðmundsson and Ingibjörg Guðmundsdóttir were very interested in art, culture and history and their private collection includes most of the gems in Icelandic art history. This is by far Iceland’s largest private collection with a total of 1,560 pieces. Around 460 works from the collection are on display at Hotel Holt. Þorvaldur and Ingibjörg wanted to give the hotel a distinguishable Icelandic character and so the building was adorned with Icelandic art from the very beginning. The artwork in Hotel Holt is numbered and catalogued and the reception offers further information and a guided tour of the hotel museum upon request.

 

 

ICELANDIC ART IN HOTEL HOLT

 

PIONEERS
In a way, Þorvaldur’s interest in collecting art began with his friendship to Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland’s most beloved painters. They met when Þorvaldur worked at SS Butchers at age 17 and would regularly deliver food to Kjarval at his studio downtown. Their friendship would last for the rest of their lives and Þorvaldur and Ingibjörg’s private collection contains one of the largest collections of Kjarval’s works, including Lífshlaupið (Course of Life), a unique work of art that Kjarval painted directly onto the walls of his studio between 1929 and 1933. A section of this piece can be seen at the bar in the private function room Thingholt. Many of Kjarval’s well-known portraits can be seen in the hotel bar.

 

A majority of the works found on the hotel’s ground floor are paintings and drawings by Kjarval but there are also paintings there by other pioneers such as Ásgrímur Jónsson, Jón Stefánsson, Kristín Jónsdóttir and Júlíana Sveinsdóttir. The collection includes epochal works like Konur í saltfiski / The Saltfish Ladies (1935) by Gunnlaugur Blöndal, Áning / Picnic (1939) by Jón Stefánsson, Konur við síldarsöltun / Women Salting Herring (1940) by Jón Þorleifsson, Sveitasæla / Rural Idyll (ca. 1955-1960) by Gunnlaugur Scheving, Töfrar Íslands / The Magic of Iceland (1962) by Jón Engilberts and two works; Farfuglar / Migratory Birds (1980) and Án titils / Untitled (1984) by Eiríkur Smith.

 

SCULPTURES
There are three sculptures in the hotel lobby. The bronze statue Friðarengillinn / The Angel of Peace (c.1910) by Einar Jónsson is next to the elevator and by the main entrance are two sculptures by Ásmundur Sveinsson: Framtíðin / The Future (c. 1950-55) and Tónar hafsins / Tones of the Sea (1950).

 

Two iron sculptures by Jón Benediktsson are on the hotel’s landings and from the ceiling of the top floor hangs a mobile of iron by Ásmundur Sveinsson. The bronze piece Höllin / The Palace  by Gerður Helgadóttir is in the Thingholt room as well as four bronze works by Jón Benediktsson titled Heimkoma handritanna / Return of the Manuscripts, made by request for Þorvaldur and Ingibjörg upon the ancient manuscripts being returned to Iceland in 1971.
The iron-cast railing on the staircase leading down to Thingholt’s cloakroom was made by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931-1989).

 

MURALS / RELIEFS

In front of the elevators in the hotel are three large stoneware reliefs, custom-made for Hotel Holt by Glit Pottery in Reykjavík. Iðnaður / Industry (1965) by painter Hringur Jóhannesson is on the 2nd floor and a little further up are two works by sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson; Sjávarútvegur / Fishing Industry (1965) on the 3rd floor and Verslun / Commerce on the 4th floor.

 

The relief Ásgarður / Asgard (1974) by sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson is next to Thingholt’s south entrance. The imagery is inspired by Norse mythology and combined from individual stoneware parts. The work depicts the following:

 

Odin rides Sleipnir, ravens Huginn and Muninn lead the way.
Wolves Geri, Freki and Breki follow.
Einherjar, Odin’s chosen ones, accompany him.
Thor waits for them at Þrúðvangur with his hammer.

 

 

FOREIGN ART IN HOTEL HOLT

 

PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES
The lobby and lounge of Hotel Holt has seascape works from Icelandic shores by Danish painters Carl Locher and Vilhelm Arnesen who accompanied Frederick VIII, king of Denmark, on his visit to Iceland in September 1907. You’ll also find two seascapes by Frants Landt from his journey to Iceland in 1936 as well as the painting Færeyskur sjómaður / Faroese Sailor (1963) by Faroese painter S.J. Mikines. Sjávarmynd frá Eyrarsundi / Seascape from Oresund by Danish painter Christian Bogø can be found in the hotel’s reading room.

 

Gudvangen (1883) by Norwegian painter Georg Anton Rasmussen is the oldest painting in the Hotel Holt collection and can be found in Thingholt along with two bronze and silver works by Swedish sculptor Walter Bengtsson, Afródíte / Afrodite (1967) and Stórveldin / The Superpowers (1975).

 

LITHOGRAPHY
The hotel’s hallways are decorated with old maps of Iceland and 134 lithographs by artist M. August Mayer, who accompanied French nature scientist Joseph Paul Gaimard on a voyage around Iceland in 1835 and 1836.
They were published in a large publication titled Voyage En Islande et au Groënland exécuté pendant les années 1835 et 1836, published in Paris between 1838-1852. In 1986, Icelandic publishing house Örn & Örlygur published the book Íslandsmyndir Mayers 1836 / Mayer’s Scenes from Iceland 1836, which included all the works from Gaimard’s voyage.
The scenes that adorn the hotel’s hallways are unique depictions of the society in 19th century Iceland – portraits, houses, objects, places and more.

Jóhannes S. Kjarval

Dyrfjöll

Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885-1972) was one of Iceland’s most accomplished painters and most of the works in the museum are by him: around 500 works from every period of his career. Kjarval drew and painted from an early age and studied art in Iceland to the extent it was available. He was 25 years old when he went to Copenhagen to study with the aid of his beneficiaries. Kjarval never shied away from experimenting creatively. Icelandic nature was an inspiration to him and within it he created a mystical world of hidden people. Icelanders adored Kjarval and this complex artist’s body of work is interwoven with the Icelandic national spirit.

Jóhannes S. Kjarval

Dyrfjöll

Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885-1972) was one of Iceland’s most accomplished painters and most of the works in the museum are by him: around 500 works from every period of his career. Kjarval drew and painted from an early age and studied art in Iceland to the extent it was available. He was 25 years old when he went to Copenhagen to study with the aid of his beneficiaries. Kjarval never shied away from experimenting creatively. Icelandic nature was an inspiration to him and within it he created a mystical world of hidden people. Icelanders adored Kjarval and this complex artist’s body of work is interwoven with the Icelandic national spirit.

Ásgrímur Jónsson

Hvítárvatn og Langjökull

Ásgrímur Jónsson (1876-1958) was a pioneer of Icelandic art and the first professional Icelandic artist. He was Kjarval’s mentor and is best known for his landscape paintings. Many of those can be found in Hotel Holt and the work Hvítárvatn and Langjökull is in the hotel’s restaurant.

Ásgrímur Jónsson

Hvítárvatn og Langjökull

Ásgrímur Jónsson (1876-1958) was a pioneer of Icelandic art and the first professional Icelandic artist. He was Kjarval’s mentor and is best known for his landscape paintings. Many of those can be found in Hotel Holt and the work Hvítárvatn and Langjökull is in the hotel’s restaurant.

Einar Jónsson

Friðarengill

Einar Jónsson (1874-1954) was Iceland’s first sculptor and his museum Hnitbjörg, which opened in 1923, was Iceland’s first art museum. He was famous for his national and mythical references and later for his symbolism. His work, Friðarengill / Angel of Peace, can be found in the hotel’s lobby.

Einar Jónsson

Friðarengill

Einar Jónsson (1874-1954) was Iceland’s first sculptor and his museum Hnitbjörg, which opened in 1923, was Iceland’s first art museum. He was famous for his national and mythical references and later for his symbolism. His work, Friðarengill / Angel of Peace, can be found in the hotel’s lobby.

JÓN STEFÁNSSON

ÁNING

Jón Stefánsson (1881–1962) studied in Copenhagen and Paris and is considered one of the pioneers in Icelandic art history. He was mainly inspired by Iceland’s vast landscapes and everyday life, evident in paintings such as Áning / Picnic which he made in 1939 for one of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants, Frascati. When the restaurant went out of business in 1972, Þorvaldur bought it and moved it to Iceland. It has been one of the main features in Hotel Holt’s restaurant ever since.

JÓN STEFÁNSSON

ÁNING

Jón Stefánsson (1881–1962) studied in Copenhagen and Paris and is considered one of the pioneers in Icelandic art history. He was mainly inspired by Iceland’s vast landscapes and everyday life, evident in paintings such as Áning / Picnic which he made in 1939 for one of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants, Frascati. When the restaurant went out of business in 1972, Þorvaldur bought it and moved it to Iceland. It has been one of the main features in Hotel Holt’s restaurant ever since.

Ásmundur Sveinsson

Tónar hafsins

Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) was an efficient sculptor and known for his simple and shapely works of figurative and abstract art. The collection includes a number of his works, for example Tónar hafsins / Notes of the Sea and Framtíðin / The Future, both by the hotel’s entrance.

Ásmundur Sveinsson

Tónar hafsins

Ásmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) was an efficient sculptor and known for his simple and shapely works of figurative and abstract art. The collection includes a number of his works, for example Tónar hafsins / Notes of the Sea and Framtíðin / The Future, both by the hotel’s entrance.

Kristín Jónsdóttir

Kaldidalur

Kristín Jónsdóttir (1888-1959) was the first Icelandic woman to study art in The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Kristín is known for her still-lives and landscapes, such as the work Kaldidalur / Kaldidalur in the hotel’s restaurant.

Kristín Jónsdóttir

Kaldidalur

Kristín Jónsdóttir (1888-1959) was the first Icelandic woman to study art in The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Kristín is known for her still-lives and landscapes, such as the work Kaldidalur / Kaldidalur in the hotel’s restaurant.

Júlíana Sveinsdóttir

Hekla

Júlíana Sveinsdóttir (1889-1966) was a student of Þórarinn B. Þorláksson and would go on to further art studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Júlíana and Kristín Jónsdóttir were the first Icelandic women to become professional visual artists. The Hotel Holt collection includes the painting Hekla, which adorns the hotel’s reception.

 

Júlíana Sveinsdóttir

Hekla

Júlíana Sveinsdóttir (1889-1966) was a student of Þórarinn B. Þorláksson and would go on to further art studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Júlíana and Kristín Jónsdóttir were the first Icelandic women to become professional visual artists. The Hotel Holt collection includes the painting Hekla, which adorns the hotel’s reception.