Swedish kings have been depicted since the Middle Ages, originally on objects such as mausoleums, seals and coins. As new artistic techniques were introduced, they were used to immortalise the monarch.
From the time of King Gustav Vasa onwards, oil paintings are perhaps mostly frequently associated with ceremonial portraits. Sculptures — particularly monumental sculptures on horseback — also became increasingly common. Depicting the king often involved striking a balance between idealism and realism. Portraits were important historical documents, and it was therefore seen to be important that they should actually provide a recognisable picture of the monarch.
Portraits presented by the king have traditionally been regarded a special honour. Painted portraits have been used in this way for hundreds of years, and since the beginning of the last century a signed photograph of the king has also been a popular token of royal favour.
Depictions of the king and his family have also been produced outside the royal court. Techniques such as wood-engraving, etching and later on oil printing and photography have made the widespread distribution of more or less lifelike images possible.