Hundred Years of Art presents Finnish art starting from the early 19th century continuing to World War I. The classics of the Turku Art Museum collection depict the transitions from romanticism to realism and ultimately to the colorful and bright breakthrough of modernism.
The exhibition starts by introducing the slow emerge of Finnish art and its pioneers such as Alexander Lauréus and Robert Wilhelm Ekman. For their generation traveling in Europe was considered particularly important. Working in Rome was considered to be very prestigious – after doing so one could truly title oneself as a true artist. The admiration of the art of ancient Greece and Rome could be seen in the selection of motifs and in the simple presentation.
This appreciation of Rome and ancient civilizations started to diminish in the mid-19th century when the idealistic art of the Romantic era was getting outdated. En plein air painting, which had developed in Germany and France, strived for a more truthful depiction of the visible reality. In the latter 19th century it predicted the need for realism in both visual arts as well as in literature. The golden age of Finnish art belongs to the same period. The golden age is well represented in the collection and many works dating back to this era belong to the most beloved works of the whole collection. On display are paintings by for example Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Victor Westerholm.
At the turn of the twentieth century the artist’s own vision became more important than trying to depict the reality as such. The influence of French symbolism also reached Finland. In Finland it developed nationalistic traits, due to the tension between Russia and Finland. Symbolism already foresaw the birth of modern art. The exhibition ends with colorful works by artist from the first decade of the 20th century: Axel Haartman, Pekka Halonen and Helene Schjerfbeck.
Turku Art Museum is after Ateneum the second oldest art museum in Finland. Thanks to its old traditions the Turku Art Museum is one of the few museums whose collections give an overview to the whole history of Finnish art. The forming of Turku Art Museum's collection began when its governing body the Turku Art Society was established in 1891. Part of the collection of almost 7 000 art works is continuously displayed.