• Svavar Guðnason, Íslandslag, 1944.

TREASURES OF A NATION

SELECTED WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION

  • 7.4.2017 - 31.12.2019, Listasafn Íslands

In the collection of the National Gallery of Iceland there are over eleven thousand works of various kinds, from various countries and from various periods. In the exhibition Treasures of a Nation a fair selection of works from the collection displays the evolution of art in Iceland from the early nineteenth century to our times. The exhibition features the variety of media and styles distinguishing this short but eventful history. During the first decades, from 1884 to 1911, the collection was exclusively based on the generous donations of foreign artists, mostly Danish and other Scandinavians, but in the early 20th century Icelandic art became more prominent. Today only one of every ten works in the collection of the National Gallery is foreign despite the fact that foreign artists are still slightly more numerous than Icelandic artists. 

The generosity of various individuals, artists and other parties can also be thanked for the pace with which the collection grew during the last century. Many of the pioneers of modern Icelandic art bequeathed their works to the nation but in the late 20th century the museum's purchasing fund increased and with it the collection expanded. There is a long and remarkable trajectory from the fragile drawings of Helgi Sigurðsson (1815–1888) of the frail poet Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807–1845) to the exquisite sculptures of Margrét H. Blöndal (1970–).