Robert Wilhelm Ekman
Robert Wilhelm Ekman (August 13, 1808 – February 19, 1873), a.k.a. R. W. Ekman, was a significant teacher and painter of the Finnish romantic portraits and early national romanticism.
Childhood and Arts Education
Robert Ekman was born in Uusikaupunki, Finland to an upper-class family. His father was Karl Kristoffer Ekman, a medical doctor and a mayor. Mother was Sara Elisabet (maiden name Gadolin). Robert Ekman's both parents died when he was about 10 years old. They left behind five orphans who were placed in foster homes. Schooling was incomplete and there was no chance of academic education.
Robert Ekman first studied in Finland under the guidance of Gustaf Wilhelm Finnberg, but in 1824, with his brother Fredric Joachim begun studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm. Already as a student Ekman specialized in portraying the life of the common people, instead of Classicism of the academic arts. Ekman graduated in 1836, and was granted a generous traveling scholarship for excelling in his studies. That supported him working in the Netherlands, France and Italy between years 1837-1844. As the scholarship was not plausible otherwise, Ekman took the Swedish citizenship.
Court Painter and a Teacher
Upon returning to Stockholm, Ekman was dubbed as an agré, also he was accepted as a member of the academy in 1844. The title included the one of royal court and history painter. In 1845 Ekman returned to Turku, where he began decorating the Turku Cathedral with wall paintings. The laborious fresco were finished in 1854.
Having lived in Finland for ten years, Ekman regained Finnish citizenship in 1855. Having moved to Turku, Ekman started working on art education with the master painter Carl Gustaf Söderstrand. In 1846 the Turku School of Drawing was founded, led by Ekman in 1846-1873.