Finland’s national epic ‘Kalevala’

The world knows that the Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folkloreand mythology. It is regarded as the national epic of Finland. But a connection with London?

Our connection between the Kalevala and London is made through leading Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela [1865-1931].  He became fascinated with the epic Kalevala as a basis for his art.


‘Sammon puolustus’  [= ‘Defence of the Sampo’] 1896

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.  Further explanation and lots more ‘Kalevala’ paintings  here.

Now for that London connection to the Kalevala:-

Akseli’s  paintings were initially of a more romantic nature, of which just one – ‘Lake Keitele’ – is proudly held by London’s National Gallery, Trafalgar Square. The painting is briefly reviewed in a video here.

You can compare the painting  to Google street view of Lake Keitele here.  Beautiful – a “must see” work of art.


Lake Keitele [1905]

So when you stand before the painting  ‘Lake Keitele’ in London, you can transport yourself back in time to join those brave Finnish heroes of the Kalevala !


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2 Responses to Finland’s national epic ‘Kalevala’

  1. Sartenada says:

    I think that You would be glad to see some scenes from Kalevala carved in snow in the:

    World’s biggest Snow Castle.

    Enjoy my photos!

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