The works on display cover the full range of portraiture, from imposing portrayal of royals and other powerful figures to intimate depictions of families, along with artists’ own self-portraits. In addition to well-known persons and notable figures of their day, the exhibition features not only portraits of people whose identities have faded into obscurity over the years, but also portraits that for some other reason have been consigned to oblivion.
The time period covered by the exhibition extends from the 16th century until present day. The works include some of the earliest known portraits, the Fayum funerary masks, which were painted on wood during the subject’s lifetime and later placed over the mummy’s face.
The exhibition includes several rare works that have not previously been displayed in public, including Lorens Pasch the Younger’s (1733–1805) portrait of King Gustav III of Sweden (1783). The Royal High Court of Vaasa was founded in 1776 and to mark the occasion, King Gustav III donated his portrait to the institution. It is currently displayed in the court’s main chamber, and normally accessible to only a few people.
The exhibition will be complemented by a catalogue exploring the works and themes from a range of new and fresh perspectives. The contributors are Finnish and international experts in their field.
Artworks have been received on loan from private and public collections as well as the Finnish National Gallery’s own collection. The exhibition is part of the official programme on the centenary of Finland’s independence.