Here I have curated some wonderful vintage illustrations of these Scandinavian gnomes.
Almost every home I walk into has a Scandinavian gnome amongst their Christmas decorations, even though they don’t live anywhere near Scandinavia. Scandinavian gnomes seem to have migrated around the world. Despite their recent popularity, they have been around for centuries.
Gnomes are some of the oldest and most popular creatures from Scandinavian folklore. In Norway and Denmark, they are known as Nisse and Tomte in Swedish.
In recent years these little creatures have become associated with the winter solstice and Christmas. They look a bit like garden gnomes. They are short with long white beards and conical hats and are often dressed in red but can appear in other bright colors.
Tradition has it that these gnomes live in barns and outhouses of farms. If treated well, they are believed to be responsible for the care and prosperity of the farm. They are also known to be short-tempered and if offended can become pranksters.
Over the centuries the Nisse/Tomte has become associated with Christmas. Along with the Yule goat, they deliver presents to homes on Christmas eve. It is customary to thank the gnomes, by leaving out a bowl of porridge and butter.
These gnomes are a common feature on Scandinavian Christmas cards and a popular decoration to have around the home.
If you go to IKEA at this time of year, they often have gnomes in various sizes available to buy as Christmas decorations. There has also been an explosion of Scandinavian related gnome crafts on blogs in the last few years.
The Illustrations of Scandinavian Gnomes
To download the Scandinavian gnome illustration you want, click on the title above that gnome. The illustration will open as a new tab in your browser. If you right-click on your mouse, the image can be saved to your device or printed straight away.
This vintage illustration of a Scandinavian gnome, shows a Nisse tucking into his bowl of Christmas porridge. As a symbol of gratitude, porridge with butter is left out for the gnomes.
An 1885 painting by Julius Holck from the collection at the Norwegian National Library.
This gnome illustration is by Nils Bergslien of a Norwegian gnome and his wife in traditional costume.
Nils was a Norwegian illustrator and painter. His work was inspired by the folklore and mountain landscape of Norway.
Karl Uchermann was a Norwegian illustrator well known for his animal portraits. Interestingly he is also credited for designing the world’s first franking machine in 1901.
This illustrations feature two gnomes and a yule goat.
A gnome pushing a wheel barrow full of flowers.
Another gnome painting by Nils Bergslien 1887.
A delightful illustration of a Scandinavian gnome sheltering from the snow under an umbrella.
An illustration of Scandinavian Gnomes on a Danish New Years’ card. Godt Nytaar translates from the Danish to Happy New Year.
A Norwegian illustration of Nisse dancing around the Christmas tree by Christian Magnus.
There is a pig in the painting, pigs are often featured with Scandinavian gnomes.
A group of gnomes receiving their Christmas porridge. This illustration is by the Swedish artist Jenny Nyström. There is a collection of Jenny Nystroms vintage Christmas cards here, many of which feature gnomes.
Another one of Jenny Nystrom’s delightful gnome paintings, this one featuring Nisse sorting the Christmas gifts for delivery.
Lycko väg translates from Swedish into good luck. Another Jenny Nystrom painting.
I hope you have enjoyed these illustrations of Scandinavian gnomes, don’t forget to check out the Scandinavian Folklore paintings of John Bauer.