Tauno Nurmela

Artist(s):Tapani Raittila Date:1968 Medium:oil on canvas Dimensions:100 x 81 cm

Tauno Nurmela (1907–1985) enjoyed a long career at the University of Turku. He was appointed Professor of Romance Philology in 1949, Vice Rector in 1953, served as Rector from 1960 to 1970, and finally as Chancellor from 1970 to 1975, during which time the University became state-owned, in 1974. In his research, Nurmela focused mainly on Italian Studies. He published numerous studies on medieval Italian texts and was particularly accomplished as a Boccaccio scholar. Nurmela’s publications also include several memoirs, such as Hei elämää from 1967. President Urho Kekkonen awarded Nurmela the title of Academician in 1975. An influential cultural figure, he is remembered for his colourful personality and sense of humour.

Nurmela’s portrait was painted by artist Tapani Raittila (1921–2018). Raittila was one of the modernists of the 1950s and an esteemed portraitist; he painted, for instance, President Urho Kekkonen’s portrait in 1958. The artist gave up portrait commissions in the early 1980s but continued to paint portraits and self-portraits until the final years of his career. Raittila received the Pro Finlandia Medal in 1966 and the State Prize for Visual Arts in 1985. His retrospective exhibitions were held in Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1991 and in the Sara Hildén Art Museum in 2007. After the war, Raittila’s fellow students at the School of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland included Tuomas von Boehm (1916–2000), whose 1957 portrait of professor Eero Mustakallio (1907–2000) is also part of the University’s art collection.

Emma Vuolaslempi 2024

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