Skip to Content
Closed today, next open Thursday. Closed today, next open Thursday.

Ad Astra

A work made of oil on canvas with a painted and gilded wooden shrine.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on canvas with a painted and gilded wooden shrine.




Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Finnish, 1865-1931

About this artwork

After associating with the Symbolists, including Edvard Munch, in Paris, Akseli Gallen-Kallela carried these influences to his native Finland while also incorporating indigenous folkloric traditions into his artistic practice. By intermingling Nordic Neo-Romanticism, Symbolism, and the decorative arts, he created a new visual language, which both spoke to and espoused the burgeoning sense of Finnish identity in the late 19th century. This conception of a unique ethnic culture reflected a general resistance within Finland to the dominance of Russia, which had conquered the country in 1809, as well as the rise of nationalist movements throughout Europe during this time.

The artist produced Ad astra (To the Stars) in rural Finland. He later built a wilderness studio and home there and this work decorated the space. GallenKallela saw the girl’s pose as recalling Christ’s Crucifixion. The suspension of gravity, as indicated by her hair, and the upward momentum evoke the triumph of the Resurrection. The frame, which he both designed and executed, was fashioned to resemble an altarpiece, and he employed the painting as one during his daughter’s baptism.


On View, Gallery 246


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Axeli Gallen-Kallela


Ad Astra

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1894–1896


Oil on canvas with a painted and gilded wooden shrine


Canvas: 76 × 85 cm (29 15/16 × 33 7/16 in.)

Credit Line

The Lacy Armour Fund; Old Masters Society; European Painting General Sales Proceeds, Charles H. and Mary F. Worcester, Josephine and John Louis funds, through prior gift of Mrs. Gilbert Chapman; European Painting Acquisition, Carol Rosenthal-Groeling, and Irving Lauf funds.

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions