Friday 7 April 2006

Royal portraits unveiled tomorrow

Tomorrow at the National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark's first official portrait of Crown Princess Mary is unveiled. It has been executed by the Australian artist Ralph Heimans, who makes links between Mary's old and new homelands in a way which accentuates her particular background.

The Heimans portrait will be the focus of an exhibition called 'Australian Visit' which includes more than 50 works on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, including the gallery's portrait of Crown Princess Mary by the Sydney artist Jiawei Shen. The exhibition also features a selection of Ralph Heimans' past commissions from London, Paris and Sydney.

The 'Australian Visit' exhibition is a collaboration between Australia's National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of National History in Denmark, which is also the National Portrait Gallery of Denmark.

The core of the exhibition is more than 50 portraits which present an engaging view of Australian achievement and personalities.

The collaboration between the two institutions began when both commissioned portraits of Crown Princess Mary for their respective collections. An Australian artist, Ralph Heimans, was chosen to execute the Danish commission, while the Chinese-born Australian Jiawei Shen made the portrait for Canberra. Both portraits provide an opportunity to compare interpretative approaches to the genre of royal portraiture. The exhibition is intended as an expression of the Danish-Australian relationship as one of many cultural exchanges in the present.

1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

1. and 2. Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV, and is now The Museum of National History.
3. Ralph Heimans, the artist of the Danish commissioned portrait of Mary.
4. Jiawei Shen, the artist commissioned to paint Mary by the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
5. Jiawei Shen's portrait of Mary
6. 7. 8. and 9. Some studies and collages done by Jiawei Shen.
10. and 11. Some royals have already seen Jiawei Shen's work. King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden saw the portrait when they visited Canberra last year.

On another note, Billed-Bladet reports that Ralph Heimans has found Mary to be a wonderful subject since they met 10 months ago (last May). During that time he has made five visits to The Chancellery House at Fredensborg, where Crown Prince Frederik dropped in on proceedings to check out how things were going. Heimans says he was nervous to begin with because he hadn't painted a royal before, but Mary was so down-to-earth and charming that she put him at ease and made him feel welcome straight away. So far nothing has been revealed about the painting except that it is painted in oil and is 1.7 metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

A little preview of some of the other works in the exhibit:

(Nick Cave, Ian Thorpe, Cathy Freeman, Jørgen Jürgensen (1780-1841), (_), Gough Whitlam, Germaine Greer, Rupert Murdoch, Peter Doherty, Woureddy)

Ralph Heimans
The Copenhagen Post: Jiawei Shen
Ann Holt's Circumnavigating the Island (Tasmania)
Australske portrætter– en søgen efter national identitet
Royal Commission - Jiawei Shen
Portrait painter Jiawei Shen
Jiawei Shen portfolio
National Portrait Gallery - Portrait Features
B.T. 'Mary unveils herself' (in Danish)
Sydney Morning Herald -- 'Portrait of man on train about to paint Princess Mary'

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