The National Gallery of Iceland 1884-2014
Selected works from the collection
7.11.2014 — 5.2.2015
The National Gallery of Iceland celebrated its founding on October 16, when 130 years had passed since the proponent Björn Bjarnarson (1853–1918), a bailiff of the Danish Crown and later a sheriff and a MP for Dala County in West Iceland, established the museum in Copenhagen in 1884. In the first 22 years of the new establishment, Bjarnarson and his assistants managed to collect 74 works by important painters from Scandinavia, England, Germany and Austria, most of which were donations of the artists themselves.
The first Icelandic work, Outlaws , by sculptor Einar Jónsson entered the collection in 1904. The first Icelandic painting in the National Gallery, Repose by Þórarinn B. Þorláksson, did not reach the collection until 1911, almost 30 years after its foundation. Now, after 130 years, the collection of the National Gallery of Iceland possesses more than 11 thousand items, of which circa 11 hundred, or the tenth part, are by foreign artists. The collection comprises works by nearly 800 artists, of whom a little less than half are Icelandic. The majority of the works, or 75%, are donations to the museum. Of these a good part is the legacy of individual artists. Annually the museum purchases works of art through state budgeting. In 2014 purchases will amount to ISK 25.2 million.
In order to draw attention to this long and rewarding history of art collecting to the benefit of the nation, a publication will appear containing 130 works, a survey of this important collection, accentuating the various means and methods, which characterize Icelandic art through the decades. Of these a selection of circa 50 works in room 3 has been chosen to reflect the 130 years in the National Gallery of Iceland.