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If you haven't visited the Albert Edelfelt 150th Anniversary Exhibition at Ateneum, you should. There seem to have been big waiting lines to get in lately, but the exhibition ends on 30.1.2005 so it's your last chance.

Edelfelt was obviously a crucial piece of Finnish art history, together with his contemporaries such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Eero Järnefelt, Hugo Simberg, Ville Vallgren (sculptor).

If you watch the paintings in more or less chronological order, it's interesting to follow his phases in life, marked by familiar sceneries or recurring pictures of some important women in his life.

Paris obviously had a big impact on Edelfelt, as he spent most of the 1880's there. There are various theories of the mysterious parisienne called Virginie who seems to appear in many of Edelfelt's paintings.

After that period (and longer some trips to Spain and Italy), during the turn of the century, Edelfelt became increasingly patriotic like many of his fellow artists. Perhaps he grew up, having married Ellan de la Chapelle and given up the joyful days of Paris. Albeit, he did maintain his atelier in Paris and painted there every now and then.

If you can't make it to the Ateneum exhibition, check out YLE's Theme Gallery. You will probably recognize a lot of the pictures. Still, you're missing out if you don't go and see the actual paintings.

(And no, it's not that boring. Most of Edelfelt's paintings are classical, realistic style, and very easily approachable. But you need to know some of the stories behind them.)

Published 17.1.2005