Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Lifespan and Timeline

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Axel Gallén was born

AGKn syntymäkoti

Axel Gallén was born on April 26th, 1865, into a Swedish-speaking family in Pori.

Image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela's birth home in Pori.


Move to Tyrvää


He moved to Jaatsi Grange in Tyrvää, and spent his childhood there.

Image: Jaatsi, the childhood home.


Move to Helsinki


Axel moved to Helsinki and began his studies at a Swedish-speaking normallyceum.

Image: The Gallén brothers Axel, Uno and Walter in 1876. Photo: GKM


Axel to quit school at 16 and focus solely on art studies

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Kuutamomaisema, ensimmäinen öljymaalaus, 1881, öljymaalaus, Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM / Jukka Paavola

Axel quit school at 16 to focus solely on art studies. He studied at the drawing school of the Finnish Art Society between 1881 and 1884.

Image: Full Moon Scenery, oil, 1881 (the first of its kind by the artist). The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: Jukka Paavola / GKM.


Axel painted Boy with a Crow in Tyrvää in the summer, and moved to Paris in the fall.


Axel painted Boy with a Crow in Tyrvää in the summer, and moved to Paris in the fall to study at Académie Julian and Atelier Cormon from 1884 to 1889.

Image: Axel Gallén and other art students in Académie Julian in the 1880s.


Summer in Finland and studies in Paris

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Akka ja kissa, 1885, öljy kankaalle, Turun taidemuseo. Kuva: GKM / Douglas Sivén

Summer in Finland. Painted Old Woman with a Cat in Salo in the southwest. In Paris, the artist painted Model Reclining Against a Tall Easel, Self-Portrait at the Easel and Paris Boulevard.

Image: Old Woman with a Cat, oil on canvas, 1885. Turku Art Museum. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM


The myth of Aino and return to Finland


Painted his first Kalevala-inspired oil, the triptych called "Aino", and returned home.

Image: The Aino Myth (triptych), oil, 1889. The Bank of Finland.


Marriage to Mary Slöör


Marriage to Mary Slöör witnessed by families on May 20th, 1890. The honeymoon took them to Kuhmo and Russian Carelia. The young couple set up their first home in Malmi, Helsinki.

Image: Hibernal Scenery (A Grey Day in Malmi), oil, 1890, privately owned. Photo: Hannu Aaltonen / GKM


Birth of baby daughter Impi Marjatta as well as the 2nd version of the Aino triptych

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Madonna (Mary ja Marjatta), 1891

Image: Madonna (Mary and Marjatta), oil, 1891. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: Petri Summanen / GKM


Imatra and Vehmersalmi


January painting trip to Imatra and in the summer to Vehmersalmi, resulting in several oil paintings with the Imatrankoski rapids as a motif.

Image: Imatra in Winter, oil, 1893, private collection. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM


Baby daughter died. Kalela got completed


The artist's daughter Impi Marjatta died of diphtheria. Axel was on an exhibitionary trip in Berlin when he got the telegraph about her decease, whereupon he returned to Finland unhesitantly. In the autumn, a studio-home called "Kalela" got completed in Ruovesi.


Daughter Kirsti was born in August. Axel did his first etchings and stained-glass pieces

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Ensimmäinen harjoitelmani Lontoossa, 1895. Lasimaalaus. yksityiskokoelma. Kuva: GKM / Douglas Sivén

Image: My First Study in London, stained glass, 1895, private collection. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM


Grand Kalevala-inspired paintings of 1896 to 1899


Image: Lemminkäinen's Mother, tempera, 1897. Ateneum art museum. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM

Kuva: Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Lemminkäisen äiti, (yksityiskohta) 1897, tempera.


Axel travelled to Italy to acquaint himself with frescoes. Son Jorma was born


Image: Colour flacons for frescoes of Gallen-Kallela. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: Jukka Paavola / GKM


The Paris World Exposition

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Pariisin maailmannäyttelyn Iris-huoneen nojatuoli, 1900, Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM

Magna opera for the world exposition in Paris included furniture, fabrics for the Iris room and Kalevala-themed frescoes for the ceiling of the central room of the Finnish Pavilion.

Image: an easy chair designed for the Iris room, wood and cloth, 1900. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM


Frescoes for the music room of Helsinki Student House. Frescoes for the Jusélius Mausoleum in Pori from 1901 to 1903


Image: Artist Axel Gallén with his assistants painting the fresco Spring inside of the Jusélius mausoleum in Pori. Photo: GKM


Travels and residence changes

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Keitele, 1904, öljymaalaus, yksityiskokoelma. Kuva: GKM / Katja Hagelstam

Travels in Europe in early 1904 with the summer spent at the Lintula villa on the shore of Lake Keitele near Konginkangas. In the autumn a relocation to Kerava.

Image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Keitele, oil, 1904, private collection. Photo: Katja Hagelstam / GKM


Move to the Alberga country seat in Leppävaara. Axel Gallén changed his name officially to "Akseli Gallen-Kallela"

vanha alberga

Image: The old main building of the Alberga country seat, where the Gallen-Kallelas lived from 1906 to 1908 and again in 1911.


In British East Africa

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Tropiikin palmu Tana-joella, 1909 - 1910, öljymaalaus, Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM / Douglas Sivén

Gallen-Kallela lived with his family in British East Africa, in what is contemporary Kenya. This produced a period of expressionist works of art. In addition, he amassed a collection of items of ethnography and zoology.

Image: A Tropical Palm Tree on the River Tana, oil, 1909-1910. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM


Building of Tarvaspää 1911-1913

tornia rakennetaan 2

Image: The Tarvaspää tower under construction in 1912. Photo: GKM

Kuva: Tarvaspään tornia rakennetaan (yksityiskohta) 1912. Kuva: GKM


The Venice Biennial

Venetsian biennaali

Akseli Gallen-Kallela took part in the Venice Biennial.

Image: The illustrated catalogue for the 1914 Venetian Biennial from the artist's home library. The Gallen-Kallela Museum.


Move back to Kalela in order to avoid the unrest of World War I


Image: Autumnal Scenery From Kalela (to the Pääskynlahti Cove), oil, 1915-1918, private collection. Photo: GKM


Self-portrait for the Uffizi Gallery

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Omakuva

Image: Self-portrait for the Uffizi Gallery, oil, 1916. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Douglas Sivén.


At the order of Commander-in-Chief Mannerheim, for supervisor and manager of the cartographic office and the printing press of the main headquarters as well as the Mint


Image: T. Vikstedt: Gallén Interviewed in the Midst of His Meritorious War Service, Cartoon for the magazine Fyren, 1918. Photo: GKM


As aide-de-camp to C.G.E. Mannerheim and nomination for professor

AGK Mannerheimin adjutanttina1919_3

Image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela as aide-de-camp of Marshall Mannerheim in 1919. Photo: GKM


The illustration and supervision of the printing of "Koru-Kalevala" from 1920 to 1922

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Koru-Kalevala: XXXIII runon alku- ja loppukuvat, 1922. tussi. Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM

The illustration and supervision of the printing of "Koru-Kalevala" from 1920 to 1922
The opus came out in 1922.

Image: The Illustrated Kalevala: the initial and final images for XXXIII Poem, Indian ink, 1922. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM


In the United States between 1923 and 1924

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Kotimme Taosissa, 1925. Yksityiskokoelma. Kuva: GKM / Jukka Paavola

The Gallen-Kallelas moved to North America, where they lived for instance in Chicago and Taos, New Mexico, where Akseli acquainted himself with native American art.

Image: Our Home in Taos, oil, 1925, private collection. Photo: GKM / Jukka Paavola


Return to Tarvaspää. The studio is refurbished for residential use

Tarvaspään vesikourun veisto

Image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela at work on a gargoyle-like protrusion sticking out of a tower of Tarvaspää in 1927.

Kuva: Akseli Gallen-Kallela työstää Tarvaspään lohikäärmeen muotoista vesikourua (yksityiskohta) 1927 - 1928. Kuva: Gallen-Kallelan Museo


Paintwork of the National Museum's Kalevala frescoes on the basis of the frescoes for the Paris World's Fair


Image: Akseli Gallen-Kallela painting The Forging of the Sampo in 1928.


Illustration of the Complete Kalevala from 1928 to 1931

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Suur-Kalevala: III runoa somisteineen

Illustration of an unabridged version of the national epic in Tarvaspää from 1928 to 1931.
The tome did not get completed.

Image: The Complete Kalevala: III Poem beginning with the line: "The mountain maketh the wind...", watercolour, 1925. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: Douglas Sivén / GKM

Akseli Gallen-Kallela died


Akseli Gallen-Kallela died of pneumonia in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 7th, 1931, on the way back from a lecture visit to Copenhagen.

Image: The artist's headstone and tomb in the Hietaniemi Cemetery, Helsinki in 1931. Photo: GKM