Akseli Gallen-Kallela 1


St. Jerome's vision in the desert (Pyhän Hieronymuksen näky erämaassa) sign Rocky Mountains MCMXXV. Feb 1. 1925

20x25 cm/33x38cm Oil on Canvas. (Does not include VAT, Margin Tax)

After completing his book projects in Porvoo, Gallen-Kallela decides to travel to the United States.  A large collection of his most important works had been sent to the Panama Pacific World Fair in San Francisco in 1915, and on account of the turmoil of World War I this collection had been confiscated by the American authorities.

When the postwar pleas of Finnish diplomats fell to deaf ears and the collection was not returned to its owner, Gallen-Kallela decided to take matters into his own hands.  He arrives in the United States in December 1923 and retrieves his collection that is put on display, in his honor, first at the Chicago Art Institute and then at several other venues.

Regrettably, ten works have been sold from the artist’s private collection without his authorization. The present whereabouts of these works are unknown. (The Kalela Museum asks that any information concerning these lost, unrightfully sold paintings be forwarded to the representatives of the museum.) 

 Instead of returning to Finland, Gallen-Kallela decides to settle down in the United States for a few years.  During this period he receives multiple portrait and other commissions from various organizations as well affluent industrialists.  In the spring of 1924, the artist sets out to explore rural America.  He travels to El Paso and from there onwards to New Mexico.  Feeling homesick and lonely, Akseli asks his family to join him.  Mary and Kirsti arrive in Houston in October 1924 and, with father at the wheel, drive to Taos, New Mexico, where Akseli has rented a house. They spend the winter amidst the majestic Rocky Mountains. 

In Taos Gallen-Kallela meets D. H. Lawrence, paints several mountain landscapes and portraits of Native American Indians, and also works on a fresh series of illustrations for an illuminated Great-Kalevala (unlike the 1923 black-and-white edition, the new edition of the epic would be printed in full color).  While the Unites States was a land of opportunity for Gallen-Kallela, he could not rid himself of his homesickness for Finland. Thus, he turns down a prospective offer for a senior teaching position at the Cranbrook Academy of Art (opens in 1932) and in the spring of 1926 returns to Finland with his family.  Gallen-Kallela’s role in the conception of the Cranbrook Academy of Art appears to have been instrumental.

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