CLASSIC OF THE SEASON: Queen Blanka

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Exhibition history 2014-
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The Classic of the Season displays art works beloved by Finns from the collections of National Gallery. Albert Edelfelt was one of the greatest Finnish painters ever. The painting Queen Blanka from 1877 is an illustration of fairy tale.

Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905) is one of the most remarkable artists of the Finnish Golden Age. He was a master in historical painting and a pioneer in outdoor painting. He is remembered as a patriotic hero artist, particularly in the early years of his career.
Edelfelt was born in Porvoo. He graduated in 1871 and went on his studies at Helsinki University. Supported by a state scholarship in 1873, he started history painting studies in Holland at Antwerpen Art Academy. He also studied in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, aiming at Paris Salon in 1877 with his painting Queen Blanka.

Queen Blanka was the artistic emergence of 22-year-old Albert Edelfelt. The theme of the painting is based on a nursery rhyme by Zacharias Topelius. The painting depicts queen Blanka the Naumurian who lived in the 1300s and was married to Magnus Erik’s son, the king of Sweden-Finland and Norway. Queen Blanka, the mother of prince Hakon, sings a rhyme to her son about his future fiancée. In Paris and in the homeland, the art work got most outstanding favor. The emperor family of Russia ordered a copy of the painting. Along with the favor, during a few following years, Edelfelt painted history, e.g. ’Duke Charles abuses the corpse of Klaus Fleming’ which is a depiction of hate, and ’the Burnt Village’, a depiction about fear.

According to the doctrines of history painting, the main aim of a painting was to reach as authentic atmosphere as possible. Edelfelt spent a lot of time at the library and museums to find facts about interiors and costumes of that time. In this painting the artist is on his own area and reveals most about himself. The painting can be seen as a remembrance of his relationship to his mother that was very firm and close all his life. A year earlier the artist’s little sister Ellen had died in consumption.

Queen Blanka shows sincere happiness and motherly love. The viewer becomes attached to the mother who gently and lovingly smiling plays with her child. The queen in her white satin dress with a dark background comes up the most important person in the painting.

10/10/2014 11:00 AM–3/8/2015 6:00 PM