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Helsinki Winter Sale presents Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Lake landscape

The origin of the famous paintings of Lake Keitele by Akseli Gallen-Kallela goes back to the summer of 1904 when the artist felt severely distressed and craved the calmness of the countryside. Exhausted by numerous trips throughout Europe and still suffering from the aftermath of malaria infection, he rented a summer residence called Lintula, situated by Lake Keitele in Konginkangas. In this scenic place, Gallen-Kallela felt relaxed and had time to study the beauty and diversity of nature. Here he sensed a strong affinity with nature and, specifically, the landscapes of Central Finland had already been an essential source of inspiration at an early stage of his career. The time he spent in nature had a renewing impact on his art. At Lintula, he could perpetuate the magnificent sceneries that filled him with serenity whenever he gazed out at the lake Keitele.

› Signed 1922. Oil on canvas, 40x50,5 cm. Estimate 140 000 – 160 000 EUR.

The high horizon with the sky almost left outside the picture is the key element in Gallen-Kallelas paintings of Lake Keitele. Dramatic clouds can still be seen as reflections on the slightly vibrating water surface, which is divided by even lines in a dynamic zigzag pattern. This variation of even and vibrant surfaces gives a strong illusion of depth to the paintings. Simultaneously the artist has depicted a phenomenon which in folk tradition has been called the traces of Väinämöinen's boat, caused by the concurrence of streams and wind.

Gallen-Kallela painted the Keitele-motifs mainly during 1904-06, but he returned to similar lake views even later on in his career. In the 1920s, he worked on an illustration project for Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, which, however, was never completed. One of these sketches for Kalevala has a strong resemblance to the work to be sold at Helsinki Winter Sale, and it is thus very likely that this painting has a connection with the Kalevala illustrations the artist was passionate about.

In addition to the zigzag pattern on the water's surface, another element that catches the viewer's eye is the pine tree on the left. It gives an impression of a landscape that opens up from a high perspective. This way of presenting the landscape is strongly connected to the Finnish national romantic landscape painting. In addition to this, the Lake Keitele views undoubtedly have a place in the history of modern European art as well. However, the most crucial dimension is the calmness and sensitivity the paintings represent, which tell us about the artist's sacred relation to nature.

Helsinki Winter Sale November 12–28, Online only

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Johan Wulff
Johan Wulff
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