J. R. Danielson-Kalmari

Artist(s):Eero Järnefelt Date:1930 Medium:oil on canvas Dimensions:118 x 86 cm Collection:Student Union of the University of Turku

J. R. Danielson-Kalmari (1853–1933), the first Chancellor (1921–1926) and the first Honorary Doctor (1927) of the Finnish University of Turku, was also invited as the first Honorary Member of the newly established Student Union in 1923. The large formal portrait is an example of parallel portraits of individuals who held different roles at the University, sometimes even painted by the same artist. Eero Järnefelt had painted a chancellor portrait of Danielson-Kalmari and donated it to the University in 1922. The portrait of Danielson-Kalmari as Honorary Member was unveiled on 26 March 1930. It was originally hung in the Student Union’s premises but has later been on display at the University.

Critic Edvard Richter reviewed the portrait when it was included in the artist’s private exhibition at Galerie Hörhammer in autumn 1931: “In it, the old sage stands with his inward gaze, as solid as a pine tree, against a mystically vivid background.” As a painter trained in the Naturalist tradition, Järnefelt skilfully depicted his nearly blind subject truthfully but with tact. Danielson-Kalmari was part of the Finnish Party (“the Old Finns”) but became more right wing after 1918, and supported the radical Lapua Movement in 1930. He dutifully continued to record the national history of Finland even after he lost his vision.

Eero Järnefelt (1863–1937), a well-known Naturalist painter of peasant life, portraits and landscapes, achieved the status of a semi-official portrait painter in Finland in the early 20th century and particularly after the Finnish Independence in 1917. He received numerous commissions, particularly from institutions, associations and companies that supported the Finnish cause. Järnefelt never gave up the principles of Naturalism that he had internalised, but he adjusted his expression to make it suit the art of the 20th century by using a slightly broader brush and by adding details to the milieu more sparingly. His portraits are often interpreted as combinations of the rich psychological nuances typical of the Russian portrait tradition, which he learned while studying at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, and the social acuteness typical of French Naturalism.

Tutta Palin 2024

E[dvard]. R–r. [Richter]. “Eero Järnefeltin näyttely.” Helsingin Sanomat, 22 October 1931.

“Juhlahetki Turun yliopiston ylioppilaskunnassa. Kunnan ensimmäisen kunniajäsenen, valtioneuvos J. R. Danielson-Kalmarin muotokuva paljastettiin tiistaina.” Turun Sanomat, 27 March 1930.

Tervonen, Jukka. J. R. Danielson-Kalmari. Historiantutkija ja -opettaja. Historiallisia Tutkimuksia 163. Helsinki: Finnish Historical Society, 1991.