|Waterfalls of Imatra 1893|
Imatra is my childhood home town and I went to school over that bridge for 8 years!
As I told you before, we are celebrating this year our 100th Year of Independence. There are going to be huge celebrations throughout the year. Therefore I thought to look back to years before we reached our independence on December the 6th 1917.
|Kullervo Cursing 1899|
We were the Grand Duchy of Finland under Russia, before that we had belonged to Sweden. In the 19th century the Finnish language had no official status and it was confined to lower classes while the higher classes spoke only Swedish. However, throughout Europe nationalism and national romantic ideas started to flourish. Elias Lönnrot gathered oral folklore and mythology to our national epic The Kalevala, first edition in 1835. This arouse a lot of excitement also in the Swedish speaking upper classes and the Finnish language and literature started to develop.
Due to these reasons my first artist of this jubilee year is Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865 - 1931). He is one of our most prominent painters, a Swedish-speaking painter who is best known for his illustrations of The Kalevala. His work was considered very important for the Finnish national identity.
|Lemminkäinen's Mother 1897|
On the left upper corner you can see The Swan of Tuonela that also inspired Sibelius
In addition to The Kalevala themes Gallen-Kallela painted also landscapes and portraits. In 1909, he moved to Nairobi in Kenya with his family, and there he painted over 150 expressionist oil paintings and bought many east African artefacts. Between 1911 and 1913 he designed and built a studio and house at Tarvaspää, about 10 km northwest of the centre of Helsinki. His house is now a museum and can be visited.
|Lake scenery 1901|
|Photo: Gallen-Kallela Museum, Saana Kytömäki|
How I dreamed of my own studio, large, spacious and well-lit,
where thoughts and ideas could come of their own accord, without the pangs of labour.
- Akseli Gallen-Kallela