Júlíana Sveinsdóttir 1889-1966
For most of her life Júlíana Sveinsdóttir lived in Denmark where she studied painting, mosaic and fresco at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. After receiving lessons from Þórarinn B. Þorláksson, twenty year old Júlíana went to Denmark to study art in 1909. She did preparatory programs at Gustav Vermehren’s private school and Agnes Jensen’s private school before being accepted to the Royal Academy in 1912. Júlíana graduated from the Academy’s School of Painting in 1917 and gave her first public exhibition in Denmark a year later. It wasn’t until 1926 that she held her first solo exhibition in Iceland, both in Vestmannaeyjar and Reykjavík. Her homeland was always a strong influence in her art and she came home most summers and painted. Her relationship with Iceland was therefore always alive and was reflected in her imagery. Júlíana’s subjects are usually split into three categories: landscape, figure paintings and still life. It is the nuance of colour and the poetic feeling of her approach that characterise her works and establish her importance as an Icelandic landscape painter. Júlíana started weaving clothing in the 1920s but would later use the medium in a more artistic way when making her beautiful textile forms. She soon became a respected weaver, although as a painter she has been considered more outstanding. She received a gold medal for her textiles at the Triennale di Milano in 1951. She was one of the first Icelandic women to become a professional artist and took part in various organisations early on. She was for example among the founders of the Federation of Icelandic Artists. In 1955 she became a lifelong board member at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.