Marcė Katiliūtė. Autoportretas. 1935, drobė,
Juozas Zikaras. Jonas Basanavičius. 1926, bronza,
History in the Portrait
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.