Anne Vistven: H.M Kong Harald Vs edsavleggelse i Stortingen, 1991.

ANNE VISTVEN: H.M Kong Harald Vs edsavleggelse i Stortingen, 1991.


The second exhibition marking the anniversary of the Constitution is dedicated to royal portraiture in Norway in the last 200 years. The genre has played an important role in the visualisation of royal power from Christian Frederik’s accession in 1814 to our own time, and has never previously been presented in such breadth in Norway. The portraits embrace a huge variety of techniques. Charles III John (Carl Johan) and Oscar II exploited the portrait as a way of legitimising both their personal positions and that of the House of Bernadotte. Haakon VII is however portrayed with a marked sobriety, not least after the Second World War, when the banner of social democracy was flying high. The portraits of Olav V range from elevated monarch to popular “ski king”. Today we see a growing acceptance of the royal symbolism of art history, as in Haakon Gulvåg’s magnificent interpretation of our present king and consort.

In Norway many of these works have attained iconic status. They play their part in sustaining the collective memory of events and personages of national importance. The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photos. In addition to the portraits, historical scenes and ceremonies are depicted, and there is a selection of sketches for royal monuments. Some of Norway’s leading artists are represented, including Gustav Vigeland, Per Krohg, Nils Aas, Odd Nerdrum, and Håkon Gullvåg. A small part of the exhibition is also devoted to the place of royal portraiture in popular culture.

In conjunction with the exhibition Orfeus Publishing will be producing a richly illustrated book. The exhibition curator and main author of the book is art historian Dr. Caroline Serck-Hanssen.