Bengt Händel 1925-2006
Händel often worked at a magnified scale, giving a superhuman level of detail when the drawings were shrunk for publication. This is the graphical equivalent of George Martin's faux-classic piano solo on the Beatles song "In my life": it was recorded at a lower pitch and speed, and then the tape was speeded up to create the Haydn-on-meth effect heard in the song.
There have been three great staff draughtsmen at the museum, each representing a typical style. Olof Sörling's drawings were generally reproduced by xylography, wood engraving. His successor Harald Faith-Ell worked mainly with ink washes and his work was reproduced by photography. And then came Bengt Händel with the dot shading, whose manner is continued by the current staff draughtswoman, Cecilia Bonnevier, and by my friend Stefan Kayat, freelance draughtsman and musician. I am proud to have images drawn by all of these people in my doctoral thesis.
The picture above is Händel's drawing of a gold bracteate (c. AD 500) from a grave at Barshalder on Gotland. This particular bracteate is an example of a local burial custom where mourners would snip away the loop and decorative brim of a bracteate, producing something that looked like a Roman coin. This was probably intended as payment for a spectral ferryman.
Hedman, Sara. 1999. Sörling, Faith-Ell och Händel -- tre tecknare i Akademiens tjänst. Fornvännen 1999:3. KVHAA. Stockholm.
Holmqvist, Wilhelm. 1977. Vår tidiga konst. Stockholm.
Lamm, Jan Peder & Tegnér, Göran. 2006. Bengt Händel in memoriam. Nyhetsbrev för personal vid Statens Historiska Museer 77. Stockholm.
[More blog entries about art, archaeology, Sweden; konst, arkeologi.]