Best known for his work depicting the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala, Gallen-Kallela’s work is considered very important for the Finnish National identity
Pictured: Lake Keitele (1905), Symposium (1894), The Forging of the Sampo (1893), In the Sauna (1889), Lemminkäinen’s Mother (1897), Defense of the Sampo (1896), Kullervo Cursing (1899), center panel of the Aino triptych (1891)
This painting shows Van Gogh’s interest in the nature of work. He saw work as redeeming and as a way to connect to God, who he portrays as a literal and symbolic sower. Van Gogh painted sowers many times, but what makes this version unique is the bright, subjective colors, and the flat and unusual composition caused by the division of the canvas by the knotted tree in the foreground.
Lemminkäinen drowns in the river of Tuonela, the underworld, while trying to capture the black swan that will bring him the hand of one of Louhi’s daughters. Upon hearing of her son’s fate, his mother searches heaven and earth to find her son. Using a rake of copper she dredges up every single piece of her son from the river and lovingly sews him back together. However, she is not able to restore life to this now whole body. So she sends a bee, a messenger of the god Ukko, to bring her honey to revive her son.