Classics on tour: Eero Järnefelt’s Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood), 1983

October 31 – December 10,2017

Eeero Järnefelt (1863–1937)
Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) 
1893
Oil
Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

The painting depicts an old method of agriculture. Burning existing vegetation used to be a common method for making soil fertile for cultivation. The picture, which Järnefelt partly painted outdoors, shows peasants toiling at a slash-and-burn site in Savo. Later the artist also used photographs he had taken of people and landscapes as reference. One of the photos was of Johanna Kokkonen, a 14-year-old girl who participated in the burning; she served as the model for the little girl in the painting. The title of the painting is an allusion to a line in the Kalevala about a little maid servant.

The European trends of realism and naturalism were eagerly adopted in Finland. Instead of the former idealising manner, subjects were now depicted without trying to conceal poverty or deformity. When this painting was exhibited, its poignant motif sparked a debate about the rights of the poor. This painting is Järnefelt’s most famous work and an icon of the golden age of Finnish art, and one of the period’s most socially critical depictions of common people.

Eero Järnefelt studied at St Petersburg Academy of Arts and later at the Académie Julian in Paris. He is known for his panoramic landscape views, but he also treasured the tiniest details of nature as equally valuable subjects. He was even an accomplished portraitist. Nature and reality were the true inspirations for Järnefelt’s art.

Classics on tour 2017
The Ateneum’s most beloved classics – Helene Schjerfbeck’s The Convalescent (1888) and Eero Järnefelt’s Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) (1893) – will go on tour to eleven Finnish art museums as part of Finland's centenary celebrations. The Convalescent will be on display in Mariehamn, Tampere, Kokkola, Kemi, Inari and Rauma. Under the Yoke (Burning the Brushwood) will be on display in Turku, Hämeenlinna, Lappeenranta, Joensuu and Jyväskylä. 

New short films about the paintings can be viewed online at our website www.klassikotkiertueella.fi. The site also contains information and news about the tour. #classicsontour