Imatra in Winter, 1893
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Finnish, 1865-1931
Oil on canvas, 153 x 194 cm
Ateneum Art Museum, A I 576

The Imatra rapids were Finland's best-known tourist attraction in the 19th century. Russians in particular came in droves from St Petersburg to wonder at the untamed force of the waters. The rapids had already been harnessed for generating electricity at the time, and the power company invited Gallen-Kallela, Albert Edelfelt and Louis Sparre to photograph, draw and paint the rapids in the coldest month of the year, when the contrast between the freely flowing water and the frozen natural environment around it would be greatest. Gallen-Kallela created several images for publicity purposes. The large Imatra in Winter is full of drama and Romantic admiration for natural forces. The encounter of frost and thaw creates a rippling in the air that is conveyed skilfully and naturally, and there is a wealth of detail. The bridge spanning the rapids in the background is an almost inconspicuous reminder of how, here too, Man has tamed nature.


This exhibition has been organized by the Nordic National Galleries