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Jógvan Waagstein
(1879-1949)

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Jógvan Waagstein was born in Klaksvík on the North Island (Faeroe Islands). Educated as a school teacher he was employed by the Faeroese School for his whole life, mostly teaching at Tórshavn Public School. He was also a pioneer of Faeroese visual art, which little by little manifested itself around the beginning of the 20th century. 

Waagstein's interest in folk culture as such also awakened his interest in the Faeroese landscape, in which the particular national Faeroese culture has its roots. Waagstein was inspired by the Nordic realist landscape painting and The Golden Era in Denmark, with occasional hints from the French Impressionism, which goes particularly well for the High Nordic Light of the Faeroese Islands. 

He was self-taught, and according to himself the little knowledge he had of painting was inspired by Mrs. Heilmann and Miss Taylor. Mrs. Flora Heilmann (1872-1944) was a Danish woman, married to the vicar in Vidareidi, and her friend, the American explorer and author, Elizabeth Taylor (1856-1932), were both painters and well known on the Faeroe Islands. Waagstein took a brief course in drawing and sketching in Copenhagen, and in 1919 he went on an educational trip to Denmark and Germany. 

In a large number of paintings Waagstein described the Faeroese landscape in a way nobody had done before, and he soon became a regular exhibitor in Tórshavn, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Glasgow. 

In September 2005 the Faeroese Post Office issued a souvenir sheet containing nine different paintings on stamps by Waagstein, each with a face value of 7,50 kr., valid for postage on letters up to 20 grams within Europe. The stamps are printed in offset by the Austrian State Printers [Österreischische Staatsdruckerei]. The individual stamps are shown below. Click here to see the full sheet

Other than painting Waagstein was also interested in music, and showed a great natural talent, which manifested in the composition of a large number of tunes to local Faeroese songs and modern lyrics by such renowned Faeroese poets as the Djurhuus Brothers, and Christian Matras, all his contemporaries. The three stamps shown below were all engraved by Czeslaw Slania. 

Finally Waagstein was extremely active within sports. He organised already in 1906 regular training for boys who took particular interest in gymnastics, and in 1909 he established Tórshavn Sports Union. With all his activities Jógvan Waagstein has left a remarkable footprint in Faeroese cultural life. 

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