art 2003/2
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Marcė Katiliūtė. Autoportretas. 1935, drobė, aliejus, 58x46,5

Juozas Zikaras. Jonas Basanavičius. 1926, bronza, reljefas, 28,5x19


Lithuanian History in the Portrait

by Laima Bialopetravičienė

Portraits have always been perceived not only as works of art, but also as witness of history, offering a richer than factual, perspective of different periods of history. They do so through the merits of artistic style, which in itself embodies typical of the period values and the role of an individual in the formation of the state.
This approach to the genre of portrait underpinned the idea of launching an exhibition “The Portraits of the Founders of the Lithuanian State” to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the coronation of King Mindaugas. The exhibition was organised by the Lithuanian Art Museum in two parts. The Vilnius Picture Gallery featured over 500 portraits of the Lithuanian rulers, dignitaries of the State and Church, figures of arts and sciences of the period from the 16th to 19th century. The Radvila Palace hosted 165 portraits of the statesmen, cultural and artistic figures of the first Republic of Lithuania, (between the WWI and WWII). The exhibition was also an overview of the development of the genre of the official portrait in the country, with key factors in it being the Baroque epoch in Lithuania, the influence of visiting artists in the country, and the formation of Vilnius Art School in the first half of the 19th century (the exhibition featured the most valuable part of the work by Jonas Rustemas, the leading Vilnius School portraitist). The 20th century part featured portraits by the painters, who were responsible for the establishment of Kaunas Art Academy, which played a seminal role in the development of Lithuanian art in the last century.

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