Démasquée is an exceptionally erotic painting in Akseli Gallen-Kallela's oeuvre. It was apparently commissioned by H.F. Antell, a Finnish collector, but when he saw the painting he rejected it. There are many indications in the picture of what Bohemian life was like in those days; yet submitting to its joys involved a risk of destruction. The lily symbolising innocence is contrasted with the extremely carnal female model and the guitar whose shape further heightens the sense of the erotic. Attention is also focused on the figure of Death grinning in the background. There are also elements which seem to sully the sacred: the paraphernalia in Gallen-Kallela's studio included a crucifix and a Buddha statue, which seem tainted by association being featured in the same painting as this at once alluring and intimidating female flesh - not to mention the ancient, quintessentially Finnish rya rug.


  • Title: Démasquée
  • Creator: Akseli Gallen-Kallela
  • Creator Lifespan: 1865/1931
  • Creator Nationality: Finnish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Stockholm
  • Creator Birth Place: Pori
  • Date Created: 1888
  • Physical Dimensions: w54.5 x h65.5 cm
  • Inventory number: A I 562
  • Dimensions: 65.5 x 54.5 cm
  • Collection: Antell collection, H. F. Antell bequest
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Ateneum Art Museum, Antell collection, H. F. Antell bequest, http://www.fng.fi/informationandresearch/photographicservice
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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