April 26, 1865 C March 7, 1931)
Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish artist and designer closely associated with notions of National Romanticism, especially relating to the region of Karelia, also a source of inspiration for the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Of particular influence was the collection of folk poems formed in the middle of the 19th century by Elias Lonrot. Following a national competition in 1891 Gallen-Kallela illustrated this national epic known as the Kaleval, the vivid images of which soon became widely known throughout Finland. He also made a significant contribution to the Finnish Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 in which he painted frescoes on Kalevala themes in the main dome, as well as designing textiles and furniture. His furniture designs were made by the Iris company, founded by a close friend, Louis Sparre. Like many other ventures associated with Arts and Crafts, the Iris company was concerned with the production of well-designed, well-made furniture and ceramics. Gallen-Kallela designs at Paris 1900 attracted considerable attention leading to the award of a number of Gold and Silver Medals at the exhibition. He worked in a wide range of design media, including ryiji rugs, which he modernized using geometric motifs derived from the Finnish landscape. His distinctive contribution to Finnish culture is preserved in the Gallen-Kallela Museum, which was originally built by him as a studio and family home between 1911 and 1913 and now contains a large body of his work, including paintings, graphics, textiles, jewellery, stained glass, and architectural designs.
Forging of the Sampo
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions 152 x 200 cm (59.8 x 78.7 in)