Monday, 20 September 2010

Þórarinn B. Þorláksson (1867 - 1924)

"Sólarlag við Tjörnina" 1905

Þórarinn B. Þorláksson was one of Iceland's first contemporary painters, the first Icelander to exhibit their painting in Iceland, and recipient of the first public grant that country made to a painter.

Þorláksson was born in 1867, the 13th of 14 children of a clergyman father, who died when Þorláksson was just five years old. Originally trained and working as a bookbinder, Þorláksson studied painting under a Copenhagen-trained Icelandic woman, Thóra Thoroddsen. In 1900 he was awarded a grant by the Icelandic Parliament to study art in Denmark, and he trained there from 1895 to 1899. Returning to Iceland, he held an exhibition of his works at a place perplexingly called Glasgow, in Reykjavík, in the summer of 1900 - the first exhibition of Icelandic painting in Iceland. Þorláksson's principal interest was landscape painting, and perhaps fittingly a dominant subject in this first exhibition of works was Þingvellir, a site of enormous historical significance to Icelanders as the site of their parliaments (which dated back to 930 AD).

"Þingvellir" 1900

"Frá Þingvöllum II" 1905

Þorláksson continued to paint, holding regular exhibitions until 1911, however he required a regular income that could not be derived solely from his art. He taught drawing at the Technical College and other institutions in Reykjavík, and was principal of that college from 1916 to 1922. He also ran a shop selling art materals, journals and books until his death. Throughout his life he continued to paint, particularly in the countryside during the summers, and it was at his own summerhouse, Birkihlíð, that he died on 10 July 1924.

"Hvita i Borgarfirdi"

"Hekla ur Laugardal" 1922

Þorláksson, together with a small number of other artists including his contemporary Ásgrímur Jónsson, confronted and portrayed the landscape of their country on its terms and through Icelandic eyes, rather than through the conventions - and the light - of Western European artistic tradition. In this respect the work of Þorláksson and Jónsson played a role similar to that of the Heidelberg School in Australia (slightly earlier) and the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and Tom Thomson in Canada (a little later).

"Sumarkvöld við Reykjavík" 1904

"Storisjor og Vatnajokull"

1 comment:

Jane Steen said...

I Þink I want to go live in Iceland.