Saturday, July 19, 2014

Eero Jarnefelt

The Wage Slaves; Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood)
oil on canvas
164 x 131 cm
Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland

Eero Erik Nikolai Jarnefelt (1863-1937) was a Finnish realist painter. He was born in Viipuri, Finland as the son of a Lieutenant-General in the Russian army. His mother belonged to a noble family in St Petersburg. He studied at the St. Petersburg Art Academy. In 1886 he went to Paris to study at the Academie Julian. In Paris, he was inspired by the plein-air and naturalistic paintings.

He was influenced by both his studies in St Petersburg and the family's strong idealism. The family home became a meeting place called "Jarnefelt school" for the young intelligensia. The circle discussed such topics as Russian and Scandinavian literature. The group's thinking was coloured by the idealistic notion that art could be transformed and could reform society by turning towards reality.

His best known painting is probably The Wage Slaves, depicting slash-and-burn agriculture. The Wage Slaves depicts Finns living in the countryside amid the landscapes and natural conditions that governed their lives. His sister married the composer, Jean Sibelius.