E. N. Setälä

Artist(s):Emil Rautala Date:1938 Medium:oil on canvas Dimensions:100 x 82 cm

Emil Rautala’s posthumous portrait of E. N. Setälä (1864–1935) was painted in 1938 based on a photograph, to complete the series of Chancellor portraits. The portrait was unveiled together with Rautala’s portrait of Gustaf Komppa, Setälä’s successor, at the University’s anniversary festivities on 27 February 1939.

Emil Setälä was one of the most renowned Finnish and Finno-Ugric linguists of his time. He was the Finnish University of Turku’s second Chancellor, starting his term on 19 March 1926. Since 1930, Setälä also served as the director and founder of the Suomen Suku research institution. He supported – and promoted – the research institution model over the broad disciplinary university model, which was contrary to the vision of V. A. Koskenniemi and the rest of the University management, but his second term of office was abruptly interrupted by his death in 1935. A Fennoman, Setälä was also a well-known figure in national politics and had served as minister several times before his chancellorship.

Painter Emil Rautala (1883–1948) had been a member of the Red Room artist group in Turku and continued to paint portraits of the University’s staff members and supporters even after his move to Helsinki in 1927. He exhibited his works mostly in Turku. Rautala studied both at the Turku Drawing School (1898–1900) and the University of Helsinki Art Room (1904–1905), where his teacher was Eero Järnefelt. He had also begun studies at the Helsinki Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society (1905–1906). During his studies, he sojourned in, for example, Munich (1907–1908) and Paris (1912–1913). Portrait painting was an essential part of his oeuvre, which is characterised by expressive use of the brush and a Post-Impressionist palette with strong shades of blue, green and purple.

Tutta Palin 2024

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