Lot 205
  • 205

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Akseli Gallen-Kallela
  • Spring Sun at Konginkangas
  • signed with monogram and dated 1906 lower left
  • oil on canvas
  • 49 by 41cm., 19¼ by 16in.


Jorma Gallen-Kallela (the artist's son)
Pirkko Gallen-Kallela (widow of the above)
Private Collection, Finland (acquired from the above in the early 1950s; sale: Hagelstam's, Helsinki, 2 December 2006, lot 121)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

The present work was painted in the final months of winter in early 1906 at Suolahti, Konginkangas, where Gallen-Kallela had gone to paint, ski and hunt lynx.

In the 1880s Gallen-Kallela divided his time between France and Finland. Typically he spent the winter in Paris, and returned home in the summer. Coming under the influence of the leading French naturalist painter of the period in Paris, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Gallen-Kallela was drawn to the pictorial potential of Finnish rural life and its meditative landscape for his subject matter.

In his works from this period, Gallen focussed on naturalistic, figurative subjects. By the end of the decade, however, he had begun to form his own distinctive genre, painting pure landscapes devoid of human form but nonetheless pregnant with meaning, as in the present work.

These studies of different aspects of the Finnish terrain were not just quintessential records of his native land, but with the unwelcome increase in the Russification of Finland at the turn of the century, became loaded with meaning. As Janne Gallen-Kallela has explained, by way of his great-grandfather's acute observation of subtle local details and Nature's elemental forces 'the minute becomes monumental; the incidental approaches the national and the natural obtains a profound symbolic value' (quoted in Akseli Gallen-Kallela, The Spirit of Finland, Groningen Museum, exh. cat., 2006, p. 118).

In the present work the prescient symbolism is expressed both through the dark shadows of the treetrunks that fall on the rocks and snow, and the stark diagonal of the fallen pine in the top left of the composition. Gallen-Kallela sets up a similar tension in another key work of the same year in the painful contortion of the central trunk in The Broken Pine (fig. 2), reflecting the nationalist spirit of the Finnish people in the face of the power of Imperialist Russia.