9/24/12

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, The Defense of the Sampo (Sammon puolustus)

Turku Art Museum (Turun taidemuseo)

Date: 1896
Technique: Tempera on canvas, 125 x 122 cm

 The Defense of the Sampo is a Romantic nationalist painting by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The painting illustrates a passage from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century.

The scene portrayed is taken from the 43rd song of the epic, where the hero Väinämöinen, seen wielding a sword, has stolen the precious artifact Sampo from the evil witch Louhi, and she, having taken the form of a giant bird, is trying to reclaim it. The battle for the Sampo is also given a deeper connotation as a battle for the soul of Finland.

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