In its universal symbolism, Lemminkäinen's Mother, a study in maternal love, is perhaps the most impressive of Akseli Gallen-Kallela's paintings based on the Kalevala. Lemminkäinen, a great warrior and womaniser, is dead following his attempt to kill the Swan of Tuonela in the realm of the dead. His mother drags the black river for the dismembered pieces of her son and puts him back together. Gallen-Kallela used his own mother as the model. A few years earlier, he had evolved his visual language of the Kalevala towards Synthetism. However, the painting also shows a tendency towards naturalism, especially in the depiction of the mother. In other respects, the simple stylising of the painting is a reference to events taking place "on the other side", further emphasising the mythical aura that dominates it. In order to strengthen this emotional impact, Gallen-Kallela also turned to matted tempera instead of oils.


  • Title: Lemminkäinen's Mother
  • Creator: Akseli Gallen-Kallela
  • Creator Lifespan: 1865/1931
  • Creator Nationality: Finnish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Stockholm
  • Creator Birth Place: Pori
  • Date Created: 1897
  • Physical Dimensions: w108.5 x h85.5 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory number: A I 640
  • Dimensions: 85.5 x 108.5 cm
  • Collection: Antell Collections
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Ateneum Art Museum, Antell Collections, http://www.fng.fi/informationandresearch/photographicservice
  • Medium: Tempera on canvas

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