"The black woodpecker has always been my friend. Whenever I hear its high grating voice, I get the feeling I am so far from human society that there is no longer any contact - even when I hear it in my own back garden." To Akseli Gallen-Kallela, this bird symbolised solitude and freedom. One can sense the desolation of the scene, as the artist has placed the bird with its red patch in the foreground, perching on a dead tree gone almost white with age. "This red spot is like the cry of an individual in the stillness of the backwoods." By this he meant himself and his creativity, which he believed produced the best results when in direct contact with the untouched wilderness.


  • Title: Great Black Woodpecker
  • Creator: Akseli Gallen-Kallela
  • Creator Lifespan: 1865/1931
  • Creator Nationality: Finnish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Stockholm
  • Creator Birth Place: Pori
  • Date Created: 1893
  • Physical Dimensions: w90 x h145 cm
  • Inventory number: A-1996-2
  • Dimensions: 145 x 90 cm
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Ateneum Art Museum, http://www.fng.fi/informationandresearch/photographicservice
  • Medium: Gouache on paper

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