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During the 19th century, Finland started experiencing a rise in artistic production, coinciding with the country’s national awakening. Visual art in the country heavily promoted the Kalevala form of epic poetry, as well as the life and experiences of its people. During this period, artists from Finland also traveled to various European art centers to participate in the development of new ideas. While working with some of Europe’s most prominent artists, the artists from Finland also explored their artistic paths. This article features a wide range of artists from the country. Some of these include romantic nationalist painters and realists.

Ellen Thesleff

Ellen Thesleff was born on October 5, 1869, in Helsinki. She started her education in 1885, and she was able to receive recognition in Finland in 1891 at the age of 22. Her work has been heavily influenced by various art forms, including Symbolism, Expressionism, and Impressionism.

Her work has always been independent of style. During her long career, she avoided theories and manifests. She gained an early international modernist reputation after traveling to various European art centers. She was also inspired by Gordon Craig, an English theater practitioner.

Thesleff’s work was influenced by the colors and shapes found in Italy’s countryside. Her ability to create unique and unsettling images made her stand out from the other artists in Finland. 

During the last ten years of her life, she was able to work on several paintings that were close to being completely abstract. In 1952, she was hit by a tram in Helsinki. She died on January 12, 1954.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela 

The founder of Finland’s national-romantic art style, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, was also an important figure in the country’s graphic and handcraft art development. He was born in 1865 in Pori and studied French Realism with Adolf von Becker. His work is also heavily influenced by the works of Finnish artists Albert Edelfelt and August Strindberg.

In his later life, he taught in Copenhagen and traveled to the Atlantic Ocean to study the works of Native Americans. He became known for his illustrations for the works of Finnish literature, such as the Kalevala and Seven Brothers. Due to the rise of modern art, his results were not widely appreciated during the last decade of his life. After he died in 1931 in Stockholm, he was regarded as one of the most versatile artists in Finland during the 20th century.

Helen Schjerfbeck

Born in 1862, Helen Schjerfbeck was one of the first artists from Finland to receive recognition during the 20th century. During her career, she worked with some of Europe’s leading artists. She taught at the Finnish Art Society’s drawing school during the 1890s and traveled across the continent.

Her work during the 1920s and 1930s exhibited her ability to achieve creative renewal. She also showed her interest in the various changes that occurred in society during this period. One of these was the rise of fashion magazines.

The concept of the elegant, independent New Women was a novel phenomenon created during the 20th century due to the increasingly democratic and modernized society. Most of Schjerfbeck’s works during the period depicted professional women. Although she mainly focused on professional women, Schjerfbeck did not consider the inner life of her models to be a subject matter for her paintings. Instead, she focused on the various people depicted in her works. Most of her portraits were of models not identified by their unique features.

Vilho Lampi 

Vilho was born in 1889 in Oulu, but his family moved to Liminika when he was 11. The countryside was an essential part of his work. During his studies at the Finnish Art Association, he mainly focused on drawing. After his studies, he returned home and worked on his farm.

During his lifetime, he only had one exhibition. In 1931, his works were sold at an auction in Oulu. This event prompted him to travel to Paris.

During his time in Liminika, he mainly focused on painting landscapes and portraits of children. Although his career lasted only 14 years, he continued experimenting with different styles. The Pointillist technique often influenced his later works. In 1936, he committed suicide by jumping off a bridge in Oulu.