Lot 9
  • 9

Akseli Gallen-Kallela

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Akseli Gallen-Kallela
  • Rower on the Lake
  • signed GALLEN / KALLELA lower right; inscribed and dated 1916 on the lower left framing edge
  • oil on canvas
  • 68 by 55.5cm., 26½ by 22in.


Possibly acquired from the artist by the great-grandmother of the present owner; thence by descent 

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1916, the present work reinterprets Gallen's composition The Rower, painted some twenty-five years earlier and now in the collection of the Gösta Serlachius Arts Foundation (fig. 1).

In 1911 the artist and his family returned to Finland from their travels in British East Africa (modern-day Kenya). Disturbed by the road building works then underway to allow the movement of Russian artillery pieces, in 1916 Gallen left his newly built, spacious studio at Tarvaspää near Helsinki. Instead he returned to his first wilderness studio 'Kalela', on the shore of Lake Ruovesi. It was there that the present work was likely painted, although the boat itself is more typical of the eastern Karelia region. The bold colours and expressive handling of the brush are characteristic of the artist’s later work, as is the signature: not Axel Gallén, but the Finnicised Gallen-Kallela, which Gallen called himself after 1907.

As well as the beautiful rendering of the water, the tree stump lying in the shallows – not present in the 1891 composition – are notable features of the present work. A vanitas motif, Gallen later used a very similar tree-trunk motif in The Lamenting Boat of 1924 (Jalmari Finne Foundation, on loan to the Tampere City Collection).