Tove Jansson, 'Putting out the Forest Fire'.
Sign. -45. Oil on canvas 60 x 72 cm.
Tove Jansson - Memorial Exhibition, Tampere Art Museum 15.6.-29.9.2002.
Tove Jansson - Memorial Exhibition in Japan 18.3.-17.8.2004.
In July 1945, Tove Jansson traveled to Åland to get to know the family and homeland of her then-partner, Atos Wirtanen. She stayed at a guesthouse near Lemström's channel while waiting for Wirtanen and spent two weeks alone on Åland, painting and writing. At that time, " Comet in Moominland" was in progress, and its imagery drew inspiration from the landscape of Åland.
Shortly before Atos Wirtanen's arrival, a forest fire broke out on the nearby Knutsboda mountain, likely due to careless handling of fire. The fire raged among rocks and forested areas for a while before the Lemland fire brigade finally brought it under control after an intense firefighting effort. According to locals, Jansson followed the forest fire with interest and urged the inn staff to row her out to the bay, where she could observe the firefighting efforts from the sea. The Knutsboda forest fire may have possibly served as inspiration for the artwork now for sale, dated 1945, depicting human figures battling a colourful, flaming fire amid charred trees and burnt ground.
During the war years, the Moomin stories served as a way for Jansson to escape the demanding reality, and through them, one can see how she conveyed the gloomy atmosphere of the time. " Comet in Moominland" depicts the anticipation of a natural disaster and the fear of destruction, reflecting the threatening global situation at the time of writing. Perhaps the ominous sight of the forest fire also served as inspiration for " Comet in Moominland", which Jansson wrote intensely during that period.