Dawn | 1906

The subject of this work can be traced back to the folktale of the Night-troll.  A tale is told of a girl, alone on her farm, on the night before Christmas. All of the others from the farm are attending church, and it is the duty of the girl to watch over the farmstead while they are away. As she notices the troll outside of her window, it attempts to lure her out into the night. A battle of wits through poetry ensues, with the troll losing track of time and suddenly the dawn has arrived, turning the troll into stone.

This is a story of transformation and Jónsson has chosen to depict the exact moment when the two forces of light and darkness, the symbols of life and death, collide and the troll is transformed. In the work the giant towers over everything clenching its fist in frustration as his hold on the girl slips, while she reaches towards her savior the sun. The raw power of the troll, the material world, is powerless against the sunlight, the opposite of materiality and darkness. Jónsson´s work becomes bolder and more symbolic here than in his Outlaws, another work with inspiration drawn from the folktales. Dawn could be interpreted in a myriad of ways, for instance through the contemporary discourse on originality in art. It is noteworthy that in a previous version of the work the troll holds the girl firm in his grip. In the final version, which is exhibited at the museum, the girl has managed to free herself from this grip. This small change underlines the meaning of the work in connection with the contemporary discourse of freedom in the creation of art.