Wäinö Aaltonen’s sculpture Maiden of Finland

Sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen created several versions of the symbolic Maiden of Finland in different materials. The Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s Maiden of Finland, made of gilded wood, is the oldest sculpture by Aaltonen on this theme. The sculpture, completed in 1925, was acquired for the Fine Arts Foundation’s collection in 1996 as the Foundation’s first auction purchase.

At Hämeensilla in Tampere, there is bronze Maiden of Finland around 4.5 metres tall, which was completed in 1929. The idealised and distant maiden also gained special status as a representative of the country’s art abroad. It has been exhibited in exhibitions around the world, including as a plaster version in the Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. In Finland, disapproval was expressed that a sculpture of a naked woman was sent to a representative event. It was, however, selected as the most beautiful work of art at the exhibition.

In the early 1930s, for the Parliament Building, Aaltonen created a maiden matured into a mother and child as a symbol of the future.

Aaltonen’s career spanned half a century, starting from the first decade of Finland’s independence. He interpreted the intellectual ideals of the young state and, thanks to him, sculptural art grew as a representational art. Aaltonen became Finland’s first academician of visual arts.Aaltonen was a friend of Gösta Serlachius, who purchased and commissioned sculptures from the artist.

Helena Hänninen

Information on the work: Wäinö Aaltonen, Maiden of Finland, 1925, gilded wood, height 90 cm, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation. Photo: Alidart

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