Tingvellir (a place in southwestern Iceland, near the Reykjanes peninsula and the Hengill volcanic area)
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Torarinn Benedikt Torlaksson (1867-1924) was one of Iceland's first contemporary painters, the first Icelander to exhibit paintings in Iceland, and recipient of the first public grant that country made to a painter.
He was the 13th of 14 children of a clergyman father, who died when he was just five years old. Originally trained and working as a bookbinder, he studied painting. In 1900 he was awarded a grant by the Icelandic Parliament to study art in Denmark, and he trained there from 1895 to 1899. Returning to Iceland, he held an exhibition of his works at a place in Reykjavik, in the summer of 1900, the first exhibition of Icelandic painting in Iceland.
His principal interest was landscape painting, and perhaps fittingly a dominant subject in this first exhibition of works was Tingvellir, a site of enormous historical significance to Icelanders as the site of their parliaments (which dated back to 930 AD). He continued to paint, holding regular exhibitions until 1911.
In 1913, he was appointed by Prime Minister as one of the five people on the committee that designed the Flag of Iceland. He taught drawing at the Technical College and other institutions in Reykjavik, and was principal of that college from 1916 to 1922. He also ran a shop selling art materials, journals and books until his death. Throughout his life he continued to paint, particularly in the countryside during the summers. He portrayed the landscape of their country on its terms and through Icelandic eyes.