Red and Pink Rocks — Georgia O’Keeffe

Ymir Suckles from the Cow Audhumla — Nicolai Abildgaard

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From H.A. Guerber’s Myths of the Norsemen (1909):

As the steam rose in clouds it again encountered the prevailing cold, and was changed into rime or hoarfrost, which, layer by layer, filled up the great central space. Thus by the continual action of cold and heat, and also probably by the will of the uncreated and unseen, a gigantic creature called Ymir or Orgelmir (seething clay), the personification of the frozen ocean, came to life amid the ice-blocks in the abyss, and as he was born of rime he was called a Hrim-thurs, or ice-giant.

“In early times,

When Ymir lived,

Was sand, nor sea,

Nor cooling wave;

No earth was found,

Nor heaven above;

One chaos all,

And nowhere grass.”

Sæmund’s Edda (Henderson’s tr.).

Groping about in the gloom in search of something to eat, Ymir perceived a gigantic cow called Audhumla (the nourisher), which had been created by the same agency as himself, and out of the same materials. Hastening towards her, Ymir noticed with pleasure that from her udder flowed four great streams of milk, which would supply ample nourishment.

All his wants were thus satisfied; but the cow, looking about her for food in her turn, began to lick the salt off a neighbouring ice-block with her rough tongue. This she continued to do until first the hair of a god appeared and then the whole head emerged from its icy envelope, until by-and-by Buri (the producer) stepped forth entirely free.

While the cow had been thus engaged, Ymir, the [4]giant, had fallen asleep, and as he slept a son and daughter were born from the perspiration under his armpit, and his feet produced the six-headed giant Thrudgelmir, who, shortly after his birth, brought forth in his turn the giant Bergelmir, from whom all the evil frost giants are descended.

“Under the armpit grew,

’Tis said of Hrim-thurs,

A girl and boy together;

Foot with foot begat,

Of that wise Jötun,

A six-headed son.”

Sæmund’s Edda (Thorpe’s tr.).

Detail from Crivelli’s Annunciation

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Detail from Crivelli’s Annunciation

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Vision of Saint John — Ethel Isadore Brown


Untitled — Markus Schinwald


Mother Mushroom with Her Children — Edward Okun


Interior with Mother Delousing Child — Pieter de Hooch

Detail from Crivelli’s Annunciation

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Still Life with Musical Instruments — Pieter Claesz

Birds Are Laughing on Top of the Tree — Mu Pan