Robert Wilhelm Ekman (August 13, 1808 - February 19, 1873), aka R. W. Ekman, was a significant teacher and painter of the Finnish romantic portraits and early national romanticism.
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 Fredrubjm begun studies in Kungliga Akademien för de Fria Konsterna (The royal academy for free 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 Holland, France and Italy between years 1837-1844. As the scholarship was not plausible otherwise, Ekman took the Swedish citizenship.