Afskrækkelse, emblem, repræsentation

Skibet som transportør og bærer af billeder

  • Carsten Bach Nielsen


Deterrence, emblem, and representation. The ship as transporter and bearer of images

Since the dawn of naval history, ships have been decorated in order to show their power, to secure protection from the gods, and to demonstrate a specific geographic or topographic origin. Taking the famous Nike of Samothrace (ca 200 BC, now in the Musée du Louvre) as a point of departure, examples of painted and sculpted decorations – mainly figureheads from the prows of 18th and 19th century vessels – are presented and placed in context. Once they no longer served their purpose, through wreckage or scrapping, such items often ended up as church decorations or in collections of various kinds. Finally, the author draws attention to the modern equivalent of figureheads on ships: the hood ornaments of automobiles. For instance, Charles Sykes’ Spirit of Ecstasy, designed for the Rolls-Royce radiator in 1911, continued and transformed the classic naval iconography of victory and mobility into a modern emblem of luxury and speed.

How to Cite
NIELSEN, Carsten Bach. Afskrækkelse, emblem, repræsentation. ICO Iconographisk Post. Nordisk tidskrift för bildtolkning – Nordic Review of Iconography, [S.l.], n. 1-2, p. 48-67, mar. 2018. ISSN 2323-5586. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 27 oct. 2021.