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Ateneum Deposit Collection

 

Works of art from the Ateneum Art Museum have been on deposit in the Presidential Palace since autumn 1919. The 1919 annual report of the Finnish Art Society refers to this: “In the autumn, a number of paintings that are not necessarily needed in the gallery were loaned to adorn the Presidential Palace and the Foreign Ministry.” During 1920–22, the museum deposited altogether 39 paintings and two smallish bronzes in four lots. In addition to Finnish and foreign works of art, copies of works by famous foreign masters were initially also placed in the Presidential Palace.

The purpose was, from the beginning, to augment the Imperial Collection partly with works by the same artists or their contemporaries. However, the deposit collection has subsequently been extended somewhat to also cover the early 20th century.

One important purpose of the artworks deposited in the Presidential Palace has been to enhance the dignity of the interiors as well as to serve as a kind of window for foreign visitors on Finnish culture and its history. The paintings also gave viewers an opportunity to get an idea of the distinctive features of Finnish nature.

The focus of deposition policy has changed over the years. In some periods, key works from the history of Finnish art have been deposited in the Presidential Palace, such as Albert Edelfelt’s Women of Ruokolahti on the Church Hill (1887) – works which are today on public display in the Ateneum Art Museum. In other periods, large paintings deposited in the palace have included such works as Ferdinand von Wright’s Capercaillies Courting (1862) and Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Imatra in Winter (1893). The works on deposit in the Presidential Palace are of very high quality artistically and give a representative picture of Finnish art from the mid-19th to the early 20th century.