NOKKRAR ÍSLENSKAR HELGIMYNDIR 83
One of the laid and couched embroideries included in my investigation mentioned
above, is an altar frontal from Draflastaðir church in Fnjóskadalur in northern
Iceland (National Museum of Iceland, Inv. No. 3924; Figure 4). This frontal has
variously been dated to the 14th-15th centuries,5 as probably 15th century,6 or
from about 1390-1403.7 Based on deductions not explained here but most likely
to be published later in a detailed study of the Icelandic laid and couched em-
broideríes, I had dated the Draflastaðir frontal, together with some other laid and
couched embroideries, to the first half of the 16th century, preferably to the
second quarter.8 Having observed the ties between the pictures of St. Ólafur in
AM 160 4to and Breviarium Nidrosiense, I now studied the other illustrations in
the latter, and, incredible though it may seem, I found among them a model,
direct or indirect, for the picture of the Virgin enthroned, central motif of the
Draflastaðir frontal (Figures 5 and 6).
At first glance the relation of these two pictures was most noticeable in the
posture of the Child. But after closer observation many more related details be-
came evident: the composition of the picture as a whole, the rendering of the
Virgin, the gestures of her hands, especially her left hand and arm as it protrudes
from under the cape, and the sleeve cuff; also the angel to the left blowing a pipe,
and Mary's throne, although the latter has become quite distorted on the frontal.
The angel to the right on the frontal seems, at first glance, different from the one
in the woodcut, but when mirrored it shows some relationship, for instance be-
tween the right hand and arm of the angel in the woodcut and the left of the angel
on the frontal.
There seems no doubt that this woodcut in Breviarium Nidrosiense from 1519,
or some other picture derived from it or closely related to it, served as a model
for the central motif on the Draflastaðir frontal. The dating of the frontal to the
second quarter of the 16th century may thus be considered correct, and, besides, it
seems evident that as early as towards the end of the Middle Ages a print was
used in Iceland as a model for an embroidery design.9
1 A photocopy of Breviarium Nidrosiense was published in Oslo in 1964.It
is not known how many copies of Breviarium Nidrosiense were printed in 1519.
In 1521 145 copies had not been disposed of, and bishop Ögmundur Pálsson to
Skálholt in southern Iceland is known to have brought 25 copies with him to
Iceland in 1522, cf. Baltzer M. B0rsum, "Bibliographical Survey," Appendix ío
Breviarium Nidrosiense (Oslo, 1964), p. 200. Written sources reveal that the
bishop's ship reached land in northwestern Iceland after a difficult crossing.
Breviarium Nidrosiense is supposed to have served as a model for Breviarium
Holense, printed at the bishop's seat at Hólar in northern Iceland, at the instiga-
tion of bishop Jón Arason, presumably in 1534 (or 1535-1537), it being the first