Ilmar Talve

Artist(s):Raimo Aarras Date:1986 Medium:oil on canvas Dimensions:100 x 81 cm

Ilmar Talve (1919–2007) held the first professorship in Ethnology at the University of Turku from 1960 to 1986. Talve’s career at the University began in September 1959 when he became Research Associate at the Department of Ethnology, which had been established under the Faculty of Humanities in 1958. He received his doctorate at Stockholm University in May 1960 and was appointed Professor of Finnish and Comparative Ethnology in November 1962. His best-known works include Suomalainen kansankulttuuri (1979), a study on Finnish peasant culture. In the 1990s, Talve wrote a three-volume memoir in Estonian, which was published in Finnish as an abridged version entitled Kolme kotimaata (“The Three Homelands”) in 2004. In September 2019, the University of Turku organised an international seminar, The Legacies of Professor Ilmar Talve, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Talve’s birth.

In his portrait, Talve is depicted from the front, at his desk. The soft light entering through the half-open blinds and the muted tones of the painting create a calm, almost stagnant atmosphere that is accentuated by the rigidness of Talve’s green necktie at the centre of the composition. The portrait was painted by Raimo Aarras and unveiled in Fennicum on 28 February 1986.

Aarras (1931–2023) studied at the Drawing School of Turku Art Society in the early 1950s, where his teachers included surrealist painter Otto Mäkilä. In his youth, Aarras worked as a professional musician, and later as an arts teacher and art historian. His academic publications include a monograph on the oeuvre of Edwin Lydén, published in 1980. Aarras was one of the founding members of the Arte artists’ association, established in Turku in 1960. As a painter, he is known for works that are, at the same time, restrained yet rich in detail and charged with emotion.

Emma Vuolaslempi 2024

“Ilmar Talve ja kansatiede.” The Legacies of Professor Ilmar Talve [University of Turku], n.d. [2019].

Leimu, Pekka. “Ilmar Talve.” Helsingin Sanomat, 21 April 2007.

Mäki, Maija. “Ilmar Talve tulee Turun yliopiston palvelukseen.” The Legacies of Professor Ilmar Talve [University of Turku], n.d. [2019].

Ruotsalainen, Helena. “Professori Ilmar Talve, kolmen kotimaan mies.” Finnish Language Society, 6 September 2020.

Sirkka, Esa. Raimo Aarras. Viesti on tärkein. Uusikaupunki: R. Aarras, 1993.