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.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.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 !