Island in the North Atlantic Ocean, located close to the Arctic Circle, at a distance of over km. 800 from the coast of Scotland and over km. 1000 from those of Norway. On the basis of the data available so far, the first permanent settlement in Iceland dates back to the 10th century. 9 ° and the settlers appear to have come for the most part from Norway, in some cases after settling briefly on the northern and western islands of Scotland. They brought their own traditions with them and adapted them to their new land; on the other hand, the island lacked an indigenous population from which to learn new ways of life and to integrate with. The influence of the countries of origin is clearly visible in the first works of art, mostly consisting of precious objects found in the course of archaeological investigations, initially in pagan tombs, where their presence must be traced back to the tradition of burying the deceased with one’s possessions. After the introduction of Christianity, around the year 1000, this practice was abandoned; the art of the early Christian era is still represented by jewels, found in treasures or in domestic environments. However, the production of works of art was soon linked to the activity of the Church, which flourished especially in the late medieval period. The Church was also the medium through which contacts with the outside world were established, which paved the way for various influences. References to art are frequent in Icelandic sagas, where there is mention of the presence of plastic and pictorial decoration of the walls or of tapestries, while in the scaldic poetry painted shields are mentioned. No specimen of the latter has been preserved, while some examples of plastic decoration of the walls remain. Further evidence of Icelandic art can be found in the production of illuminated manuscripts starting from about 1200.The oldest production in precious metal has close links with that of the Scandinavian countries and in general of those bordering the North Atlantic. Taking this into account, as well as the fact that there are few finds in Iceland of Viking-era goldsmith objects, it is very likely that the specimens found on the island are all imported works. However, this problem has not been examined in depth and in reality an indication concerning the local processing of precious metals is offered by the discovery of fragments of clay crucibles during excavations carried out, for example. in Reykjavík and the Westman Islands. Although most of the earliest decorated artifacts were made according to the Scandinavian styles of Viking art, there are still exceptions: e.g. a good number of ring pins of the Iberian-Norse type (e.g. from Gnupverjaafréttur, in the north of the island; Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 5396), widespread throughout the North Atlantic area and which had its moment of maximum attestation in the sec. 10th, and a belt tip of the century. 11 ° (e.g. from Lundur, in the south-east of the Iceland Skógar, Country Mus., S-627), with an oriental motif presumably originating in Russia or the Baltic. These objects show the existence of wide-ranging contacts, linked to trade or other reasons, during the first centuries of settlement.The only sign of Proto-Viking art, in the late Oseberg style, consists of two oval fibulae of the type of Berdal (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 5030), identified as Petersen type D (1928), the most recent in the context of this typology, in the past dated to the first half of the century. 9 °; recent findings in Ribe, Denmark, however, seem to indicate that the first fibulae of the Berdal type date back to the 10th century. 8 ° (Myhre, 1993) Most of the earliest decorated artifacts found in Iceland are made in the later animalistic style, named after the ship-tomb of Borre, Norway. The main motifs of the Borre style, which is dated between 850-875 and 925-950, are the ‘chain of rings’, the intertwined animal and a more naturalistic, generally retrospective, animal rendered. Among the objects showing this decoration, the belt tips and the circular and oval fibulae should be remembered, the latter mostly variants of Petersen type 51 (1928). A well-preserved pair was found in a tomb in Dadastadir, in Iceland along with other precious ornaments (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 15691), including a three-lobed fibula of a type particularly common in Norway. Jelling’s style overlapped chronologically with both the Borre and Mammen styles, which followed; it is solely based on a single reason, that of the ribbon-shaped animal in the form of S. In Iceland a number of objects decorated in this style were found, including oval, disc and tongue-shaped fibulae and sword hilts. characterized by the style of Mammen, which dates back to the second half of the 10th century. The animalistic form that appears in this style constitutes a further development of that of Jelling, but towards more naturalistic proportions; with this style phytomorphic motifs appear for the first time in Viking art, common instead in contemporary Western European art. shortly after the Christianization of Scandinavia, whose development was closely connected with the activity of the Church. The most common motifs of Ringerike’s style are tendrils, the ‘big animal’ and a snake. Numerous wooden tables with fine examples of decoration in this style have been preserved in Iceland, including that from Gaulverjabaer, in Iceland southern (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 1974: 217). Discovered in 1974, it has been preserved thanks to its reuse, like the rest of other medieval panels, due to the scarce availability of wood in the country. It has a delicate phytomorphic decoration consisting of double-contoured tendrils, which overlap one another, and leaves similar to acanthus, considered more typical of the late Mammen style rather than that of Ringerike; the table is dated to the first half of the century. 11 ° and may have been part of a piece of furniture. The panels from Mödrufell, in Iceland northern (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 6096 ae; 7015). Thirteen decorated fragments arrived in Reykjavík in 1910 and 1915, three more in 1994; they have been preserved thanks to reuse as beams in farms and all have the same kind of decoration: crossings of double volutes and single tendrils with a pear-shaped termination at the end, which widens over the width of each table and then tapers until it ends in crosses and lilies. The panels of Flatatunga (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. no. 15296 ad) are of a slightly later period. The four preserved fragmentary panels they are divided into two decorative zones: the upper one bears a plant ornamentation in the typical Ringerike style, while the lower one presents a series of figures of saints. It has been hypothesized that these panels were part of a larger wall decoration of a church, perhaps the cathedral of Hólar, the bishop’s seat in the north of the island, and probably constitute the first decoration of a church preserved in that area. In another group of carved panels, of similar function and found fragmentary, found in Bjarnastadahlíd, in the northern part of the country (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. Nr. 8891), a Byzantine influence has been identified; they are thought to be part of a Last Judgment from the early 12th century. last of the Viking artistic styles, created in the second quarter of the century. 11th and in use until the 12th, is that of Urnes, which owes its name to the elegant carvings of a Norwegian stave church. The main motifs are animalistic, in particular stylized quadrupeds, animals and ribbon-like snakes. In Iceland numerous objects decorated in this style are preserved, the most beautiful of which is the silver fretwork fibula, coming from Tröllaskógur (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. Nr. 6524), which presents the typical thinned animal of the style of Urnes, intertwined with two snakes, a motif that finds frequent parallels in Scandinavia. With the increase of influences from Western Europe, Viking artistic styles were gradually replaced by Romanesque art, although it is still possible to grasp the presence of some delayed motif derived from the most ancient styles. Animalistic motifs were largely replaced by intertwined acanthus tendrils and leaves, although dragons and lions still appear. This flowery style in Iceland is amply attested by objects related to the ecclesiastical environment, often in wood, as in the valuable example of the door of the church of Valthjófsstadur (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv.nr. 11009), which can be dated around to 1200. In its present form it is made up of two circular decorative panels: the upper presents the Story of the knight who saves the lion by killing the dragon, the lower the images of four winged dragons biting their tails to form a circle. Tables decorated in the Romanesque style have also been preserved: some of them are doorposts coming in all probability from church portals, such as eg. those of Hrafnagil (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 782, 1080, 4883, 5365-5367) and of Laufás (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. nr. 395); in other cases the function is not as clear, but they all have in common the organization of decoration in circular fields. local. The oldest preserved sacred image is a figure of Christ crucified, carved in birch wood, from the church of Ufsir, in the northern part of the country (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. Nr. 4795). It shows a bearded man with a crown, in Romanesque style, datable to the 11th or 12th century. The pastoral care of the century 12 ° (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. Nr. S2), in walrus tooth, found in the tomb of Bishop Páll in Skalholt, the bishopric in the south of the country, is decorated, perhaps by local workers, with carved animals that have comparisons with the wooden portals of the church of Urnes. There are also preserved some silver chalices, perhaps made in Iceland at the beginning of the century. 13 °; the best examples come from the church of Fitjar (Reykjavík, Thjódminjasafn Íslands, inv. no. 6859): the decoration of the foot and stem of the chalice consists of bands with phytomorphic motifs in the Romanesque style with spirals inhabited by birds and dragons. oldest of Icelandic miniature is a copy of Physiologus, dated to c. 1200. (Reykjavík, Stofnun Arna Magnússonar, 674a). An English influence can also be identified in this work as in others that follow. 13 ° some variations in artistic styles are highlighted. The circular motifs disappeared and the pointed arch was gradually replaced by the pointed Gothic arch. The changes are equally clear also in the religious images, as in the case of the reliquary of the century. 13 ° from Keldur (Copenhagen, Nationalmus., Inv. 923), in which the rigidity of the Romanesque style disappears, while the images acquire a more lively character.