The Spell Broken | 1916-1927

Jónsson started working on The Spell broken in 1916, he then enlarged and completed it in 1927. At the center of the piece stands a knight who firmly grips the hilt of his sword, he has thrust the sword through the head of the dragon lying at his feet. He holds a young unclothed female who extends her hand, throwing off a shroud of an old crone. With his other hand he holds a shield high and behind them is the dragon’s body and folded wings.

This subject matter is well known in medieval art and can be traced back to stories in early Christianity concerning Saint George. There it is said that Christianity was established in Anatolia when Saint George killed the dragon, a symbol of evil and heathen forces.  Saint George hailed from Kappadokía in Anatolia. Kappadokía is personified as a young girl. On the other hand, in medieval stories Saint George was said to have fought the dragon outside the city walls in order to save a princess that was about to be sacrificed. Through art the dragon is usually depicted winged and the knight in either roman or medieval armor. In works of religious nature the knight tramples the dragon, showing the victory of Christianity.

There are obvious connections between The Spell Broken and the legends and artwork depicting St. George´s struggle with the dragon. With Jónsson´s relationship to theosophy in mind, as well as his ideas of freedom in making art, it has been said that the piece can be interpreted through the writings of the British theosophist Annie Besant. Specifically in her views concerning the spiritual development of man, where she also refers to the battle of St. George and the dragon in this thought. According to Besant, the dragon is referred to as kama in theosophy, for example lust, which has a foothold in man, but St. George represents Manas, which through getting rid of kama is the power of the free will of man. The prerequisite for that freedom is triumphing over kama.

In this piece it seems that Jónsson has held true to the writings of Besant. The knight’s stance and gestures suggest the power he represents that has slain the dragon, the symbol of lust in order to free the pure will personified through the girl, otherwise lust will dominate free will. The work can be interpreted through Jónsson’s emphasis that artists should not follow in others footsteps but find their own way.