The Sun Singer 1926
The Sun Singer at Millesgården depicts a naked male body, with no head or arms. In order to see the original sculpture, go to Strömparterren in Stockholm. Here the Sun Singer has both arms and a head. He wears a Greek helmet and his arms are raised towards the sky. He is facing east and his open mouth indicates that he is singing his hymn to the sun.
Carl Milles created the Sun Singer on assignment from The Swedish Academy and worked on it for nearly ten years. The Swedish Academy had commissioned a commemorative monument dedicated to Esaias Tegnér, a writer and bishop in the 1800s. Instead of portraying Esaias Tegnér, Carl Milles chose to focus on a poem by Tegnér, Address to the Sun, from the 1810s, and to sculpt the singer. On the pedestal a medallion shows a portrait of the poet.
The naked man with the helmet has several likenesses with a Greek god. Could it be Apollo, the god of light, poetry and music from Greek mythology, who sings thus to the sun. It took Milles many years to finalize the Sun Singer, in part because the Swedish Academy and the Tegnér family were dissatisfied with a naked man representing the writer. When Milles made a casting for Millesgården, he chose to omit the arms and head, creating in such a manner a sculpture which resembles an antique sculpture.
A curious detail present in both versions of the Sun Singer is the small tortoise under the right foot of the male figure. Why is it there? Is it because the man is standing in a classical pose, a so-called contrapost, where the weight of the body is resting on one leg, while the other leg is pushed forward slightly. It may have been tempting to place the tortoise under the forward leg, as a little surprise. Or is it because the tortoise is allied with Apollo? Apollo´s first lyre was made from the shell of a tortoise.