The Artist's Mother, Guðrún
Gísladóttir (1867 - 1958)
We know that in 1928 Sigurjón Ólafsson took with him a portrait bust of his mother when he was admitted to the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. This particular work seems to have been lost. In the summer of 1938 Ólafsson visited Iceland after an absence of four years and took the opportunity to complete another portrait bust of his mother, Guðrún Gísladóttir, who was then in her mid-seven For the occasion she put on the national costume and the special cap that comes with it. The portrait was modelled in her kitchen, apparently in a single day. Ólafsson's mother was impatient and not at all happy with the result. She had her son promise to sell her portrait to a foreign museum, so that she wouldn't have to look at it again.
This work is considered among the highlights of Ólafsson's portraiture. Quite apart from its personal traits it seems to embody the experiences of common women in Iceland from time immemorial and thus has been regarded as something of a national symbol.
Sculptor Sigurjón Ólafsson and his Portraits
Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum 2008, ISBN 978-87-88755-05-03