Rest | 1915-1935

Rest is modeled as the giant head of a young man. Half of his face is hidden beneath a layer of six-sided forms or basalt strands, while the other half of the face and the neck are visible. The back of his head and his neck are covered with four-sided basalt columns, some protrude at an angle, and resemble rays of light. Underneath his chin stands a small man dressed in robes, supporting himself on a large hammer with both hands, beside him is a large seashell. The man’s clothing and hammer suggest that he is a sculptor who has taken a rest from his work.

A small sketch made in clay is kept in the museum, the first draft of this work. In that sketch the geological forms covering the half of the man’s face are not fully formed. In this version a man stands beneath the face but he does not seem to be a sculptor, he is drooped over with one arm underneath his cheek. His stance is similar to that of the famous Thinker by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The small clay sketch illustrates a different stage in Jónsson’s work than is found in the finished piece.

The larger plaster piece can be interpreted as the artist creating a work, which is larger than him through molding the rough material of nature into the likeness of man. Because of Jónsson’s connection with the theosophical theory of spiritual development of man and rebirth the work has been interpreted through the writing of the British theosophist Annie Besant who Einar Jónsson was very familiar with. In a book by Besant, which is kept in the Jónsson library, it is stated that god is within everyone, waiting to come forth. Besant explains that process by referring to the work of a sculptor; in order so that the divine sculpture can arise from the rough hewn stone of humanity each and every one must cut away that which conceals god from the eyes of man, with the chisel of the mind and the hammer of will. It has been pointed out that there are similarities between Besant’s metaphor and the poems of the Italian sculptor Michelangelo: that the sculptor hews the rock in order to free the sculpture that is already within the rock. The sculptors purpose is therefore to free the sculpture from the rock and in that way realize his ideas. Different from Michelangelo, Jónsson did not hew his works in stone but molded them with clay; he added material instead of removing it. But there are obvious ideological connections between his works and the aforementioned writing.