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Maria Wiik: Portrait of B. O. Schauman, 1888

 

B. O. Schauman (1821–1895) was a very influential figure in the early years of Finnish art. He served as the first curator of the Finnish Art Society 1869–87. According to Professor Riitta Konttinen, Schauman was considered a “dictator” and “a great eccentric”. Maria Wiik had known Schauman for a long time, however, and was used to his eccentricities, which irritated her fellow painter Helena Westermarck to such a degree that she called him an “old spook”. Schauman was in a very powerful position when, for example, artists who had been abroad submitted their work to the Art Society’s exhibitions for display and eventual purchase.

The Finnish Art Society commissioned the portrait as a token of gratitude when Schauman resigned from his long service. He was 67 at the time.Wiik depicted Schauman’s head against a background of blue-grey tapestry, giving a lively air to the painting.