Edelfelt’s quaint atelier

Most people in Finland recognise the famous paintings by Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905) even if they don’t know the name of the painter. We see these paintings in history books and maybe study them at an art class. I remember going on a school trip just to see an art exhibition of his works in Helsinki. For a 9-year-old country kid any reason to take a bus to the city was welcome but I must have learned something about the artist as well since I still remember the occasion.

Foreigners might not know the works by heart but there is a chance that they have seen pictures somewhere – he was a cosmopolitan artist and one of the first Finnish painters to achieve international fame.

Edelfelt’s atelier is a small, red hut close to the Haikko Manor just outside of Porvoo. When he was painting here, in the 19th century, there were fewer people about. Despite new roads and buildings in the area, his little hut and a piece of land with tall pines and heather have remained much the same as they were when the artist was working.

Edelfelt painted over 200 paintings from portraits to naturalistic scenes during his summers in Haikko and many more during his whole life. I’m not going to attach pictures of his works but you can check some at the wikiart page here. The picture of three boys, of which copy hangs on the wall of the atelier on the picture above, is one of the famous ones. It was painted right here by the sea.

Edelfelt painted outside and asked local kids for models. It was a cold day so the boys were not keen to play in the water, but somehow Edelfelt persuaded them to stay half-dressed long enough to make multiple sketches. The finished work turned into a remarkable painting with joy and childhood nostalgia. Talk about people posing for Instagram photos nowadays – the reality is not always what it looks like.

More little anecdotes of Edelfelt’s works and inspirations are on offer at the atelier. His famous works are, of course, not there, but there are copies of them and some locations where he painted outside have been marked and you can try to see how the landscape was transferred to the canvas. A 30-minute video explaining his unfortunately short life and artistic career is also rather interesting and makes the visit a bit more informative and meaningful. The visit made me want to unearth my watercolours and paint brushes again.

Quick Look

  • What: Albert Edelfelt’s aterlier
  • Where: Haikko, Porvoo, Finland
  • Why: To learn more about the artist, see what inspired him perhaps
  • How much: 7€

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