David Beck (1621−56), studio, Christina, Queen of Sweden, oil on canvas, 68cm x 56cm Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola

Art and Travel: The First Steps in the Formation of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s Collection in 1883–99

Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, MA, Curator, Archives and Library Unit, Finnish National Gallery

This is a revised version of the article published in Salla Heino (ed.), Koti Bulevardilla – Keräilijät Paul ja Fanny Sinebrychoff / Ett hem på Bulevarden – Konstsamlarna Paul och Fanny Sinebrychoff / A Bulevardi Home – Art Collectors Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff. Sinebrychoff Art Museum Publications. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum, 2021. Transl. Mike Garner

Paul Sinebrychoff the Younger (1859–1917) was only 29 years old in 1886 when, with the support of his mother, he took charge of the family-owned brewery. When he had married the actress Fanny Grahn (1862‒1921) three years earlier, he did not yet have responsibility for the family business and the young couple were able to travel abroad and explore art treasures. Thus began a lifelong passion for culture and the Sinebrychoffs started collecting art in the late 1890s and, as a result of nearly thirty years of collecting, in 1921 Fanny Sinebrychoff donated the collection of approximately 900 works to the Finnish State at the joint request of the couple.

During those decades Paul Sinebrychoff used to write letters in the evenings concerning art acquisitions to various specialists, mainly in Sweden, but later in other parts of Europe. The Archives of the Finnish Art Society at the Finnish National Gallery’s Archive Collections contain approximately 1,300 letters and responses to and from Sinebrychoff between 1891 and 1914. My essay explores the way that Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s art collection was formed as a consequence of their journeys to Sweden. The information about those journeys and art acquisitions comes from this research into Paul Sinebrychoff’s correspondence.

An appreciation of the context surrounding these now-digitised letters is of paramount importance in gaining an overview. For example, in analysing Henryk Bukowski’s 19th-century auction catalogues, I was aided by a knowledge of, for instance, Swedish art collectors, their collections, and the sales of individual works of art. My research also covers the Sinebrychoffs’ personal relationships with art historians, antiques dealers, and especially with art collectors. For example, the Sinebrychoffs made their first purchases of artworks directly from artists, collectors and antiques dealers.

Featured image: David Beck (1621−56), studio, Christina, Queen of Sweden, oil on canvas, 68cm x 56cm. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Kirsi Halkola
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Gustavian Room, 2003. Photographer: Arno de la Chapelle. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

A Collector’s Dream

FNG Research

A new book, A Bulevardi Home – Art Collectors Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff, published by the Finnish National Gallery, celebrates the centenary of the bequest of the Sinebrychoffs’ collection of artworks, furniture and other artefacts to the Finnish Government in 1921. Meanwhile, at their home – now the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki – the exhibition ‘Collectors on Tour’ presents important collectors who have donated their collections to the FNG. FNG Research discusses the growth of house museums and artefact studies, with Kari-Paavo Kokki, a museum director emeritus and expert in historical styles and artefacts, who has also contributed an essay to the book.

The Sinebrychoffs’ bequest is housed in their house museum on Bulevardi (now part of the Finnish National Gallery), where the rooms on the first floor at the front of the building are shown as Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff had arranged them after moving there in 1904. As part of the centenary celebrations, the house museum is reopening following further renovations to the building. In the temporary exhibitions gallery below the house museum, the exhibition ‘Collectors on Tour’ spotlights significant collections belonging to the Finnish National Gallery and their influence. These collections include those of the Swedish baron Otto Wilhelm Klinckowström (1778–1850), the Italian Renaissance scholar Eliel Aspelin (1847–1917), the forestry magnate Jalo Sihtola (1882–1969), who collected both historic and contemporary works, and the Paris-based millionaire Herman Antell (1847–93) who had a taste for collecting Old Masters.

Featured image: Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Gustavian Room, 2003. Photographer: Arno de la Chapelle. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

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Slavs and Tatars, Prayway, 2012, installation. Courtesy the artists and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin Photo: Bernard Kahrmann

Living Encounters: Creating a Landmark ­Contemporary Art Show

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

Putting together a survey show that takes the pulse of the global art world is a complex task. Ahead of the ARS22 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Gill Crabbe discusses the research and curatorial processes involved with Museum Director Leevi Haapala and Chief Curator João Laia

There’s an old saying that we can become what we dwell on, and this springs to mind following meeting Leevi Haapala, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Chief Curator João Laia. They have been working on the latest in a series of exhibitions, which are held every four to five years in Helsinki to test the water of the contemporary arts scene both nationally and internationally. Each edition of this long-established show is eagerly awaited, with its selection of around 40–50 artists ranging from emerging Finnish artists to global icons, and expectations are high. Hearing Haapala and Laia speak about their vision for ARS22 and the research processes involved, it seems clear that the two of them have been in many ways embodying or exemplifying the vision they have evolved for this landmark exhibition. They are walking the talk.

For the theme around which ARS22 is conceived is mutual empathy, neatly encapsulated in the show’s title ‘Living Encounters’. Looking at the world, as artists do, it is easy to see the processes of social fragmentation (accelerated by Covid-19) and increasing polarisation within the discourses and issues of today, be that politics, ecology, technology, belief systems, gender or race issues – ‘concerns,’ says Haapala ‘that contribute to determining our actions in collective and private spheres’. The vision for ARS22 centres on presenting artworks that individually, collectively or in dialogue with one another, offer the possibility to question or obviate such divisions. With this approach ARS22 sets out to create a ‘renewed way of thinking which acknowledges the complexities of the world as fruitful’ rather than divisive, and provides a ‘forum for sharing experiences and examining issues that touch us all’.

Featured image: Slavs and Tatars, Prayway, 2012, installation. Courtesy the artists and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin
Photo: Bernard Kahrmann

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Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake View, 1901, oil on canvas, 84cm x 57cm Photo: Finnish National Gallery /Hannu Pakarinen

Observations on the Painting Technique and Materials Used in the Painting of Lake View, by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Katariina Johde, Conservator, BA, and Hanne Tikkala, MA, PhD Student, Senior Researcher, Conservation Unit, Finnish National Gallery

A museum visitor observes an artwork on a museum wall on average for a few seconds or minutes. The conservator quickly checks the condition of a painting before and after every exhibition to make sure the condition has remained unchanged during the exhibition. The condition report, with detailed drawings, descriptions and photos, takes perhaps half an hour to make. Would new and noticeable information come to light if one were able to look at the painting for hours with bare eyes, microscopes, in different electromagnetic wavelengths, with different instruments and cameras?

In our day-to-day work as a conservator and a materials researcher, we make observations of the structure and the surface of the paintings in more detail than a regular viewer. In this article we present some aspects regarding the painting technique and the materials of the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s (1865-1931) painting Lake View, from 1901[1] (Fig. 1). Usually, this painting is exhibited in the main collection exhibition in the Ateneum Art Museum and is a very popular work that draws in our museum visitors. In recent years it has often been loaned to exhibitions in Finland and around Europe. Every time it has returned to the Ateneum the research has continued and as a result the painting has been studied very carefully, especially over the past two years.

Originally, we decided to study Lake View more deeply because of its beautiful and informative radiograph (Fig. 2). We had already X-rayed a large number of Gallen-Kallela’s works but as we were analysing the radiograph of Lake View, we started to recognise characteristic features in the brushwork, which appeared repeatedly in his paintings. The radiograph and other analytical photographs of the painting were very illuminating and strengthened our understanding of the artist’s painting technique. However, important new information was also found just by looking at the painting very closely with the naked eye. Markings on the edges and on the reverse of the painting gave us information which led us to visit the archives and to investigate his original painting materials.

[1] Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake View, oil on canvas, 84cm x 57cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, A-2010-173.

Featured image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake View, 1901, oil on canvas, 84cm x 57cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Suvi Sysi, Caused Reflection, 2017, installation comprising surplus papers from the printing process, monotype; dimensions vary Photo: Suvi Sysi

Body, Trace, Perception

Saara Hacklin, PhD, Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

This article was originally published online in Finnish only as ‘Ruumis, jälki, havainto’ in Martta Heikkilä and Annu Vertanen (eds.), Printed matters: merkitysten kerroksia. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts, The University of the Arts Helsinki, 2021[1]

How does the artist’s body become a medium and a carrier? How does an author explore his or her relationship to the world by submitting to it? In this article, I examine the practice of five young printmakers: Roma Auskalnyte, Inka Bell, Inma Herrera, Emma Peura and Suvi Sysi. They were all born in the 1980s and 1990s and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki. The works they make take various forms: sculptural installations, performances, videos and reliefs. Yet all share a strong connection with the tradition of printmaking.

In this article I investigate the ways in which the relationship to the human body is reflected in their artworks. From this viewpoint I trace a relationship to the world, where the artist is exposed to different materialities and open to the surrounding world. The artworks discussed bring forth themes of perception, memories and different materialities, as well as questions of language and technology. What unites the artworks is their ability to reach towards the other, be it a matter of thinking in other ways, looking at history from another angle and thinking about our way of being in another way.

[1] To access the book in Finnish, visit http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe202102053929.

Featured image: Suvi Sysi, Caused Reflection, 2017, installation comprising surplus papers from the printing process, monotype; dimensions vary
Photo: Suvi Sysi

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Isaak Rabinovich, The Martian City. Still from the silent film Aelita, 1924, directed by Yakov Protazanov. Courtesy of the BFI National Archive

Gothic Modern Sensibilities: Vaults of Matter and Spirit via a Russian Arch

Dr Jeremy Howard, Deputy Head of School of Art History, University of St Andrews, Scotland

Strange as it may seem Gothic never died. Appropriately perhaps it has been living in an art-historical netherworld where the struggling forces of formal modernism and social realism seem to have reigned for nigh on a century. Yet the very struggle of these forces belies the place, and strength, of the Gothic: in their attempts to suppress it, the different parties acknowledged both its grip and its mystery. Let our conception of the Gothic Modern be one of vaults. For vaults, as we know, are underground chambers for the living, dead and treasured, as well as arched structures and the heavens. The pointed rib vault, from four-part to stellar and fan, represents the dynamic span of Gothic. Of course vault also means vigorous leap and, with that, transcendence. Here we focus on Gothic Modern’s Russian vaults.

We can conceive our vaults as vessels of matter and spirit. On the one hand they are grounded in craft and collectivity, this while simultaneously being celestially aspirant, a romantic questing for spiritual uplift. On the other, they are dark and decadent, an irrational foray into horror and descent. They can offer the sublime and the grotesque. Urged on by the writings of Wilhelm Worringer, Richard Sterba, Josef Strzygowski and Karl Scheffler, among many others, our vaults are identifiable in artworks from seemingly disparate movements and centres. So far from just spanning inflections of Expressionism and Surrealism, they cross Cubism, Constructivism and the International Style, while deriving much of their esprit from Symbolism and Art Nouveau. In the spirit of the Gothic Modern vault let us move backwards to move forwards, let us spring from a subversive alliance of bold post-revolutionary avant-garde architectonics to fin-de-siècle painterly anxieties and apparitions (and back).

Featured image: Isaak Rabinovich (1894-1961), The Martian City, still from the silent film Aelita, 1924, directed by Yakov Protazanov. Courtesy of the BFI National Archive

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Featured image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Death and the Flower, woodcut, 9.5cm x 5.5cm Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis

Gothic Modern

Albrecht Dürer, St Sebastian Bound to the Tree, 1500–02, engraving, 11.5cm x 7.1cm Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen
Albrecht Dürer, St Sebastian Bound to the Tree, 1500–02, engraving, 11.5cm x 7.1cm
Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen Creative Commons – Copyright free

The international research and exhibition project Gothic Modern has been launched by the Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. The project schedule spans 2018 to 2025. ‘Gothic Modern: from Medieval and Northern Renaissance to Dark, Emotive, Uncanny Modern Art’ explores the pivotal importance of Gothic art for the artistic modernisms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

  • An ambitious new approach to modern art focusing on the untold story of Nordic and Northern European medieval reinventions from the 1890s to the fall of the Weimar Republic.
  • Illuminates the Gothic as a core fascination for late 19th and early 20th-century art, crossing cultural borders, transcending nationalism, straddling war and its aftermath.
  • Reveals a hidden aspect of the work of Edvard Munch and Käthe Kollwitz through their deep attraction to the art of the ‘Gothic’ past, as well as how this resonated for their contemporaries, such as Theodor Kittelsen, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Hugo Simberg and Helene Schjerfbeck.
  • Explores how these artists were inspired by medieval art through pilgrimages, eroticism and the ‘Dance of Death’ to create powerful new expressions of artistic and cultural identity: of sexuality and trauma; death and reconnection.
  • The focus is on major fin-de-siècle and early 20th-century Nordic, German and Russian artworks alongside rare medieval and Northern Renaissance objects
  • A compelling exploration of the Gothic for the 21st century, concerning the individual, gender, difference and transnational community, entwined with the dark, the emotive and uncanny, as well as connected cultures, places and new spaces of art.
    (Juliet Simpson, 2021)

Guest Curator
Professor Dr Juliet Simpson, Professor of Art History, and Chair of Visual Art and Cultural Memory, Coventry University, UK, juliet.simpson@coventry.ac.uk

Project Leader, Ateneum Art Museum – Finnish National Gallery
Dr Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Chief Curator of exhibitions and research, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, abonsdor@fng.fi

Partners
National Museum, Oslo and Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin


Hugo Simberg, Boy from Säkkijärvi, 1897, oil on canvas, 31.3cm x 43.5cm Ester and Jalo Sihtola Fine Arts Foundation Donation, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen
Hugo Simberg, Boy from Säkkijärvi, 1897, oil on canvas, 31.3cm x 43.5cm
Ester and Jalo Sihtola Fine Arts Foundation Donation, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen
Creative Commons – Copyright free

Gothic Modern News and Upcoming Events

Forthcoming – Autumn 2021

  • ‘Gothic Connections and Connectors – Afterlives of Medieval Art in the Baltic and Nordic Countries: 1870s–1920s’, international research conference, organised by Prof. Juliet Simpson and Dr Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, in the Ateneum Art Museum / Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Autumn 2021

Gothic Modern Publications – FNG Research New Online Series

Featured image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Death and the Flower, woodcut, 9.5cm x 5.5cm
Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Featured image: Bernt Notke, Dance of Death, end of the 15th century, oil on canvas, 160cm x 750cm, from St Nicolas’ Church, Tallinn, and now housed at the city’s Art Museum of Estonia Photo: Abrget47j / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Writing the Gothic: Defining the Character of Medieval Heritage in Estonia from the late 19th Century to the 1930s

Dr Krista Kodres, Professor, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn

This is a detailed abstract of the lecture given by Professor Kodres at the online Knowledge Sharing Workshop of the Gothic Modern Research Project, on 25 March 2021

How were different art-historiographical cultures involved in shaping the understanding of Gothic art and architecture in Estonia, a country that in the late 19th and early 20th century was part of tsarist Russia and which then, in 1918, became an independent republic? In my presentation, I also ask what kind of life-world the various art-historical interpretations created in the imagination: how did they define the spatial and temporal cultural belonging of different nationalities within Estonia.

The first art-historical surveys of Estonian local heritage were written by Baltic-German art historians. Artistic and architectural production was systematised and ordered into periods on the basis of formal stylistics. The Gothic style found its place from the start, and it also coincided with the beginning of Danish-German colonisation and the Christianisation of the Old Livonian territories in the 13th century, thus forming the foundation for all of the subsequent artistic development, i.e. Estonian art history. At the same time however, the Gothic in Estonia has been viewed as a belated and less artistic peripheral version of the German spirit. In order to overcome this unhappy conclusion, a special rhetoric was elaborated.

The first modern art historian who had to face these issues was Wilhelm Neumann (1849–1919), who was also active as an architect, and who in his later years was the Director of the Latvian Art Museum in Riga. In his book Grundriss einer Geschichte der bildenden Künste und des Kunstegewerbes in Liv-, Est- und Kurland (Reval 1887), Neumann wrote about the ‘slow becoming’ and ‘delayed arrival’ of the Gothic style because of the distance ‘from trend-setting centres and the conservative character of the inhabitants’. Therefore, he continued, ‘the forms never reached the clarity and richness of ideas and noble sublimity that is characteristic of the South [of Europe]’. In order to balance this aesthetic inequality, Neumann connected the development of Gothic forms to the use of local materials and thus made the architecture correspond to given special circumstances: ‘He (das Land) understood how to create new art forms that correspond to the nature of local materials…’ Hence, it is the Land and its people who give art-historical meaning to monuments. In the booklet he wrote for the local clergy, who were the keepers of medieval church buildings, Neumann crystallises this meaning: ‘Monuments of art and architecture are witnesses of the historical past of our homeland. The purpose of their maintenance is to preserve our consciousness of belonging to our cosy homeland, and to keep the memory of our ancestors alive’ (Merkbüchlein für Denkmalpflege auf dem Lande, Riga 1911). Accordingly, in Neumann’s view, all art-historical objects are important as material instruments of identity; they possess the ability to reflect history and affect feelings; they induce a sense of belonging. At the same time, the Gothic was determined to be the strongest signifier of ‘German power’ (Kraft) by the man who had greatly inspired Neumann, the German art historian Wilhelm Lübke.

Featured image: Bernt Notke, Dance of Death, late 15th century, oil on canvas, 160cm x 750cm, from St Nicolas’ Church, Tallinn, and now housed at the city’s Art Museum of Estonia
Photo: Abrget47j / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Ilya Repin and Vera Repina (centre, front) with their neighbours at Repin’s 85th birthday celebrations in Kuokkala on 5 August 1929. Vasily Levi is third from left. Photographer unknown. Lauri Haataja Repin Collection. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

The Artist, his Admirers, his Dealers and Inheritors – Ilya Repin and his Career in the Republic of Finland

Timo Huusko, Ph.Lic., Chief Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

This is a revised and extended version of Timo Huusko’s article ‘Ilya Repin’s early art exhibitions in Finland’, published in Anne-Maria Pennonen (ed.), Ilya Repin. Ateneum Publications Vol. 147. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2021, 103–27. Transl. Don McCracken

Ilya Repin was faced with a new, unexpected situation when the October Revolution of 1917 severed the close ties between St Petersburg and Kuokkala in Finland. He had become accustomed to many changes in the course of his long life, but up until then these had been mainly due to his own decisions, especially his bold departure from Chuguev to St Petersburg to study art in 1863, then moving on to Moscow in 1877 and exhibiting with the non-academic Peredvizhniki (Wanderers) group. Repin returned to St Petersburg in 1882, and in 1892 he became first a teacher at the Imperial Academy of Arts, and later its Director. He also acquired a place in the countryside near Vitebsk in Zdrawneva, Belarus, in 1892, and subsequently entered into a relationship with Natalia Nordmann, with whom he purchased a house in Kuokkala on the Karelian Isthmus in 1899. In 1903, he moved permanently to Kuokkala and two years later retired from the Academy. These decisions were all made as a result of more-or-less conscious judgments that influenced his quality of life and relationship networks.

Things changed in 1918, however, and Repin was no longer in control. Nordmann (1863–1914) had died of pneumonia in Switzerland four years earlier, and the border between Finland and Russia was closed in April 1918 in the wake of the October Revolution and the Finnish Civil War, leaving Repin a 73-year-old Russian emigré in the newly-independent Finland. His property in Russia was confiscated, and for nearly three years he was virtually ignorant of what was happening in Soviet Russia.[1] On top of all that, his right hand had become partially paralysed, preventing him from working properly after 1903. He lived in his studio house, Penates (Penaty) with two servants and his daughter Nadya (Nadezhda), who had learning disabilities. His son Yury lived nearby with his family and his eldest daughter Vera moved to Penates from the Soviet Union in 1922. His third daughter Tatyana lived in Zdrawneva until 1930.

By this point Repin had lost his former network of exhibitors and buyers, along with the Russian intelligentsia and circle of patrons that had given him job opportunities and also provided inspiring food for thought. In fact, Repin had cut himself off from the St Petersburg elite after moving to Kuokkala in 1903, although at that time a St Petersburg newspaper had reported he was still voted the fourth best-known Russian after Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Gorky.[2] The way that he distanced himself can be seen, for example, in the fact that he became interested in the free co-operative movement and a self-sufficient economy in the spirit of Tolstoy, as well as in democratic, non-hierarchical structures and ideas about living in harmony with nature in general. Repin and Nordmann’s weekly receptions at Penates on Wednesdays offered only vegetarian food and self-service at the dining table, although that did not stop prominent Russian writers and artists visiting him until the outbreak of the First World War. While Repin opposed new art trends, such as the aestheticism of the Mir iskusstva (World of Art) group and especially the early avant-garde, nevertheless in the mid-1910s he became acquainted with, for example, Vladimir Mayakovsky and David Burliuk, whom he met at the villa of his neighbour, the author Korney Chukovsky.[3]

[1] Elizabeth Kridl Valkenier. Ilya Repin and the World of Russian Art. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990, 186–87. According to Tito Colliander, Repin last visited Russia in November 1917. See Tito Colliander. Ilja Repin, ukrainalainen taiteilija. Helsinki: Tammi, 1944, 331.

[2] ‘Ett och annat’, Hufvudstadsbladet, 4 July 1903.

[3] Olli Valkonen. ‘Ilja Repin ja Suomi’, in Ilja Repin. Exhibition catalogue. Helsinki : Taidekeskus Retretti, 1995, 38–43. After the revolution, Chukovsky remained in Soviet Russia, where he became a major children’s writer. He was also a significant person in Repin’s life as editor of Repin’s memoirs, which the artist began to compile in Kuokkala. The memoirs were completed as early as 1916, but were not published in the Soviet Union until 1937.

Featured image: Ilya Repin and Vera Repina (centre, front) with their neighbours at Repin’s 85th birthday celebrations in Kuokkala on 5 August 1929. Vasily Levi is third from left. Photographer unknown. Lauri Haataja Repin Collection. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

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Ilya Repin’s first letter to the Finnish Art Society, undated, 1919. Minutes 1917–20. The Archives of the Finnish Art Society. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Ainur Nasretdin

Sources for Ilya Repin Researchers in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery

Helena Hätönen, MA, Curator, Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

This text is based on the article ‘Sources for Ilya Repin’s Researchers in the Finnish Central Archives’, first published in the exhibition catalogue Repin: A Russian Master’s Life and Work in Finland. Tallinn: Art Museum of Estonia – Kadriorg Art Museum, 2013. Transl. from Finnish to Estonian by Meelis Lainvoo and from Estonian to English by Juta Ristsoo

Documentary materials related to the painter Ilya Repin (1844–1930), starting from 1910, are stored in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery.[1] Along with specialised art-historical archives and documents, these collections include photos and other pictorial material, audiovisual recordings, literature and newspaper articles related to and associated with the fine arts.[2]

The oldest material in the Archive Collections is based on the collections of the Finnish National Gallery’s earliest predecessor – the Finnish Art Society, which was the administrative arm of the fine arts scene in Finland between 1846 and 1939. These collections became the responsibility of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland Foundation, inaugurated in 1940. The Foundation became a state-owned museum, the Finnish National Gallery in 1990 and, at that time, the Central Art Archives was established along with the other museum departments. In 2014, the National Gallery was reconstituted as a foundation and the functions of the Central Art Archives were included in the new Department of Collections Management.

Ilya Repin’s ties with Finland became stronger when, at the beginning of the 1900s, he started coming from St Petersburg to visit the holiday destination of Kuokkala at Kivennapa, in Vyborg County on the Karelian Isthmus. As a result the Finnish press started to pay more attention to Repin, who was a famous professor at Russia’s Imperial Academy of Arts. In 1897 the Finnish Art Society started to document the fine arts scene and began a press cuttings collection. At first, it was limited to a few Swedish-language newspapers in Finland, but gradually spread to publications throughout the country. The information on Ilya Repin in the press cuttings collection in today’s Finnish National Gallery dates back to 1906, when Repin’s studio was completed as an annex to Penates, his summer house in Kuokkala.[3]

[1] The original text for this article was produced by the Central Art Archives, a department of the Finnish National Gallery from 1990–2013. The writer has now updated the contents to correspond to the current situation in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki.

[2] By 2021, approximately 215 separate archives, most of them acquired as donations, have been assembled in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery.

[3] ‘Den berömda ryska målaren’, Nya Pressen, 7 July 1906. Scrapbook V. Press cuttings collection. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki (AC, FNG).

Featured image: Detail of Ilya Repin’s first letter to the Finnish Art Society, undated, 1919. Minutes 1917–20. The Archives of the Finnish Art Society. Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Ainur Nasretdin

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