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Akseli Gallen-Kallela

(Finland, 1865-1931)
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
(Finland, 1865-1931)

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, oil on canvas, signed.

View from the tower of Tarvaspää. 55,5x65,5 cm.

"LEIPÄK"-inscription by the artist runs vertically from lower left corner of the painting. According to given information by the Gallen-Kallela Museum this inscription occurs at least on one other painting by Gallen-Kallela. The meaning of the inscription is uncertain.

Wear due to age and use.


K A Snellman, Oulu, bought the painting in the 1910s. Thence by descent in the family.

More information

The so-called Golden Age of Finnish Art is considered to span years 1880 to 1916 and it coincided with the Finnish national awakening. Artists, sculptors, composers, architects and writers immersed themselves in history and folktales in order to grasp the true Finnish identity which they wished to convey through their creative work. Among the artists of the Golden Age, it was undoubtedly Akseli Gallén-Kallela (1865-1931) who studied the Finnish national soul with the greatest degree of devotion and fascination. An integral part of this frenzy for the purely Finnish spirit was a love of the nature, which, in Gallén-Kallela’s view, reflected the Finnish national character.
“One who lives and works out in the nature gains such a personal relationship with his surroundings over time that he can almost find himself talking to the trees of the forest. Our folk poetry witnesses how a deep empathy with the nature has been characteristic to us Finns. We are therefore prone to have a special aptitude to personify it; the plants of the forest become intimate friends and we can almost identify different characters among the trees. We entrust them different things: ones to the slender birch and others to the grey dead standing pine, the storm-twisted redwood or the grim dark spruce. And the man of nature observes the life of the forest with a completely different insight than everyone else. He notices the slightest changes in it: in the colour of the trees as well as their health and vitality. For such a person the forest is never dead, not even in the coldest dayof February –it only sits so silently that this silence itself can speak. Underneath the drifts of snow, there is pulsating strong and plentiful life, like that of a hibernating bear, sleeping in its winter den.” (–Akseli Gallen-Kallela, "Boken om Gallén-Kallela", Holger Schildts Förlag, Helsingfors 1948.)

In this piece, owned by the same family since the 1910s, the interaction of light and shadow and flaming colours are typical elements that keep recurring in Gallén-Kallela’s art. Some of the features in it take one’s thoughts to the view from the tower of Tarvaspää, but the oblong scenery, the serenity and the two rowers in the foreground presumably indicate that the artist wanted to illustrate the ideal landscape, as if a celebration of the Finnish nature.

We thank the Gallen-Kallela Museum for the attribution of this work.
A technical examination of the work has been executed.

Picture: K A Snellman in his home, ca 1917. The painting by Gallen-Kallela in the background.


Akseli Gallen-Kallela is counted among Finland's most famous artists, born in 1865 in Pori. He studied at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society in Helsinki and later at the Académie Julian in Paris. He worked across various art forms such as painting, graphics, illustrations, textiles, architecture, and even designed military uniforms. Akseli Gallen-Kallela's first significant work, 'Old Woman with a Cat,' challenged the ideals of its time and paved the way for realism in Finnish painting.

Gallen-Kallela was primarily known for his paintings and illustrations for the Finnish national epic, 'Kalevala.' In 1900, he executed dome paintings with Kalevala motifs for the Finnish pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris. His visual language is often described as naturalistic, symbolic, and expressionistic

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