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Kesäinen maisemamaalaus, etualalla kolme naista istuu ja ompelee, taustalla siintää järvi. Image Timo Kalima

Gallery 14.10.2023–4.2.2024

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of artist Wilho Sjöström (1873–1944). During his lifetime, Sjöström was one of Finland's best-known painters, professor and an influential figure in the Finnish art life. Sjöström was also active in Central Finland. He spent long periods in Viitasaari and painted in Laukaa, Korpilahti, Saarijärvi, Suolahti and Keuruu, as well. 

In honour of Sjöström's jubilee, the Jyväskylä Art Museum has put together an exhibition of Sjöström's paintings, which belong to private and museum collections and are mainly related to Central Finland. The works in the exhibition highlight Sjöström's central themes, skilful portraits and views of nature. 

Sjöström was known as a prolific portrait and landscape painter. He was fascinated by Finland's winter and summer nature, particularly water, and was called the poet of flowing water. Alongside his darker-toned paintings, Sjöström's oeuvre also follows a more colourist and painterly line. Trips abroad to the south of France and Italy gave new impetus to these endeavours. 

Sjöström survived the difficult economic times for artists thanks to numerous portrait commissions. He was one of the most trusted portrait painters in his time. His strong technical skills enabled him to effortlessly capture the characteristic features of the model.

Few Finnish artists have enjoyed the popularity that Sjöström enjoyed during his lifetime. Among the general public, Sjöström's art gained unwavering support due to its anti-theoretical and non-experimental nature. Due to his numerous positions of trust, Wilho Sjöström was a key figure in Finnish art life from the mid-1920s onwards. He is known as a guardian of the ideals of late 19th century landscape and portrait art and an interpreter of the art tastes of his era.

Wilho Sjöström 1873–1944
Wilho Sjöström was born in Iisalmi in 1873 into a family of civil servants. He studied at the Finnish Art Society's drawing school until 1893, after which he continued his studies as a private student of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. In Paris, at the Académie Julian, he studied from 1894 to 1897. Sjöström also supplemented his studies at the Statens Studieskolor in Copenhagen and the Scuola del Nudo in Florence.

Wilho Sjöström's works were exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1897. He made his debute in Finnish artists’ group exhibitions from the following spring, gradually gaining a position as a naturalistic open-air painter, portrait painter and folk life illustrator. Sjöström held his first solo exhibition in 1909. During his lifetime, he participated in numerous exhibitions of Finnish art abroad. His works are in many Finnish museum collections. 

Vanha maisemamaalaus, etualalla kolme naista ompelemassa, taustalla siintää järvi. Image Timo Kalima

Wilho Sjöström, Sewing Sisters, 1920's, oil on canvas. Private collection.