Spring Evening when the Ice is Melting, 1897
Hugo Simberg
Finnish, 1873-1917
Oil on canvas, 27 x 37 cm
Ateneum Art Museum, A IV 2761

This work was painted at Ruovesi in the spring of 1897. Simberg was deeply affected by the scenery in the locality and even planned to build his own studio near Gallen-Kallela's Kalela, on the other side of a kilometre-wide stretch of the lake.

As spring is coming, the ice on the lake has become dark and watery and the sunset is mirrored in the pools lying on its surface. The exaggerated contrast between the bright yellow and the black pushes the view beyond realistic landscape painting. The lone islet, although a natural enough feature of almost any Finnish lake scene, seems on closer inspection to be unnaturally close to the black shoreline. What is more, its silhouette bears an uncanny resemblance to the outline of a ship, while the lone trees on the shore appear to have a face.

Simberg liked to paint in the dusk and at night-time. It looks as though the colours, suffused with the glow of the sunset, and the gradual onset of darkness captured his imagination.


This exhibition has been organized by the Nordic National Galleries