Keeping a Hold on Things

27.1.2018 - 2.9.2018

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Mary kutoo, 1905, öljymaalaus. Yksityiskokoelma. Kuva: GKM / Petri Summanen.

The Life of Mary Gallén

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Mary ompelee karjalaisessa tuvassa, 1890. öljymaalaus. Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM / Jukka Paavola

Axel Gallén: Mary Gallén Sewing in a Karelian Farmhouse, 1890. Oil on canvas. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Jukka Paavola

Mary Gallén (1868 – 1947) can be seen in many paintings by Axel Gallén, but who was she really? What was the everyday life of the wife of a renowned artist like? It could often be keeping a hold on things.

Art is not created in a void. It requires background support and everyday life. Bills have to be paid, and firewood needs to be chopped… Mary managed the household and the daily life of the family in their many homes, and participated in her husband’s work, learning to carve or gild the frames of paintings, among other tasks. Mary’s life led her to cabins in the wilderness and abroad all the way to Africa and America.

Music and handicrafts played an important role in Mary’s life. She was both a concert pianist and a music teacher, and she even set up a weavery at Tarvaspää.

The 20th of November 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Mary’s birth.

Mary Gallén skiing in Malmi, Helsinki, 1890; print 1 of the photograph.

Mary Gallén skiing in Malmi, Helsinki, 1890.


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