Visiting Portrait of Danish Royal Highlights Bond Between Georgia and Denmark

May 20, 2016

A striking portrait of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wrapped up its two-week visit to Kennesaw State University on May 13. Painted by Georgia artist Stan Mullins at the request of the Honorary Consul General of Denmark, the painting symbolizes the strong bond of friendship between the State of Georgia and the Kingdom of Denmark.

Mullins’ painting of the Danish princess was on display in the Social Sciences Building atrium from May 3-13, 2016. The exhibition was sponsored by Kennesaw State University’s Division of Global Affairs and the Danish Consulate in Georgia.

Portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark painted by Georgia Artist Stan Mullins

At 6-feet by 4-feet, the portrait makes an impression on anyone who sees it. The work features four distinct renderings of the princess, as well as a map of Denmark and images of three flowers representing the countries of the Danish realm: a daisy representing Denmark, a buttercup for the Faroe Islands, and a niviarsiaq representing Greenland. A Fibonacci arch flows across the painting to evoke classicism and “to complement the grace and style of the Crown Princess,” Mullins said.

Mullins is an accomplished sculptor and painter working out of his studio in Athens, Ga. He was inspired to paint the Danish royal by a conversation with his fraternity brother, Chris Smith, who serves as the Honorary Consul General of Denmark in Georgia. The two met to discuss a portrait Mullins was painting of Smith’s wife for their 11th wedding anniversary and began discussing ways to highlight Denmark in Mullins’ art.

“Chris mentioned that Andy Warhol had done a series of paintings of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II,” Mullins said. “I have always admired the accomplishments of Crown Princess Mary and so I thought she would be a wonderful subject for a portrait.”

Portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in Social Sciences Atrium

The Portrait of Crown Princess Mary hung for two weeks in the Social Sciences Building atrium

Crown Princess Mary’s unique story has made her into an international celebrity. Born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson in Hobart, Australia, her father was a math professor at the University of Tasmania, while her mother was an executive assistant at the same university. Mary met the Crown Prince Frederik in an Australian pub while he was in the country attending the 2000 Summer Olympics. The two were married in 2004. Mary’s story has been described by the media as a real-life fairytale.

Mullins and Smith unveiled Mary’s portrait to the Danish community in Atlanta at a Sankthans (mid-summer) celebration in 2015. “They loved it,” Smith says. The portrait then hung in the lobby of the Serenbe Playhouse in Atlanta during the December run of the Danish play The Snow Queen, and finally spent two months at an art gallery in Macon.

The two offered to bring the portrait to Kennesaw State University because of the institution’s commitment to promoting international engagement among its students, and their belief that art is one of the best ways to do that.

Portrait of Danish Crown Princess Mary with artist, Danish honorary consul general, and representatives of the Division of Global Affiars

From left to right: Dr. Lance Askildson, Kennesaw State University Chief International Officer; Stan Mullins, artist; Chris Smith, Honorary Consul General of Denmark; Dr. Dan Paracka, Director of Academic Initiatives for Kennesaw State's Division of Global Affairs

Dr. Dan Paracka, Director of Academic Initiatives for the DGA, worked with Mullins and Smith to bring the Crown Princess’ portrait to the University. “This is the kind of thing we’re always trying to do,” he said. “We want to present a wide array of internationalization opportunities to our students.”

According to Mullins, “One of the great things about art is that you get to bridge cultural divides. Everyone who sees the painting here [at Kennesaw State] is trying to better themselves. Hopefully we can provide a little bit of light in the direction they want to go.”

Mullins’ previous international work includes traveling with the Rotary Club as a cultural ambassador to Japan and he has studied art in Italy multiple times during the last 30 years. He was invited to Rwanda to paint the people, places, and environment shortly before the start of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, which gives the collection an unintended historical significance.

“All of these things keep fueling my passion and my fire for bridging cultural gaps,” he said. “That’s what all this is for.”

Artist Stan Mullins with his Portrait of the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Artist Stan Mullins with his Portrait of the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Mullins and Chris hope the portrait of the Crown Princess Mary inspires people to learn more about the strong cultural and economic ties that exist between Georgia and the Kingdom of Denmark.

“We have over 200 years of friendship and interaction in the fields of commerce, science, educational, athletic and artistic exchange between Georgia and Denmark,” Chris said, noting that the Royal Danish Consulate in Georgia opened in 1802. “Danish companies employ over 1,000 Georgians and bilateral trade is strong.”

After leaving Kennesaw State University, Mullins returned the painting to his Athens studio. However, he has big plans for the portrait’s final home.

“It is my hope that it will visit many places in its life and then end up in one of the royal family’s summer or winter palaces.”

-Patrick Harbin