The Sea King

Image credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

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Although the iconography of the figure is Viking, the appearance of the man is more Mediterranean and suggests that Gibb possibly worked from an Italian model as was the fashion at the time. Gibb appears to have paid great attention to accuracy of costume. The intricate chainmail tunic or 'byrnie' that the figure wears is a potent symbol of his elevated status as such a garment was costly to produce and was only worn by Kings and leaders. The gold torques that he wears on each arm are also a display of his wealth and power and were often used as bonds between important figures and their vassals. The striking oval brooch that secures his cloak is very similar in style to tenth-century examples in the British Museum and doubtless Gibb had carried out his research on Viking artefacts carefully.

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture



The Sea King




oil on canvas


H 88.1 x W 111.1 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Diploma Work deposit, 1882

Work type


Inscription description

Robert Gibb 1882


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Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

The Mound, Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH2 2EL Scotland

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