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
- Made 1894–1896
- Oil on canvas with a painted and gilded wooden shrine
- Canvas: 76 × 85 cm (29 15/16 × 33 7/16 in.)
- 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.