Rural and agricultural history played an important role in the building and maintaining of the Latvian national identity. Latvians had positioned themselves in culture and ideology as a nation of farmers, “ploughmen”, and deemed the rural territories as the true treasure-house of the Latvian identity, national stability and traditions. Historically, the self-representation of being a nation of farmers had become one of the most enduring identities of the Latvian nation, however it is no longer unambiguously attributed to the whole nation of Latvia.
The agrarian reform in the Republic of Latvia, by allocating small land plots to Latvians, was performed in order to create a nation of farmers. Farming was praised in arts and in the public sphere. The authoritarian regime of President Kārlis Ulmanis particularly supported farmers as the basis of the Latvian culture. President K. Ulmanis himself embodied the image of a proper Latvian rural landowner, understandable to the Latvian mentality. The nation’s character was intertwined with farming values and land works.
During the 1920-1940’s, the Latvian rural life with its slow rhythm and elated peace was the stimulator for works of many artists. Exhibition “New Rural Landowners of the Ulmanis’ Era” shows the reflections of the agrarian policy in paintings by Ģ.Eliass, O.Skulme, L.Liberts, Ā.Skride, J.Strazdiņš, A.Štrāls and other artists.
Diāna Barčevska, curator of the exhibition, March 18, 2011.
Press photo: Jūlijs Jēgers. Harvest Time. Ca 1930. Oil on canvas. 67 x 80 cm