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Friends of Ateneum Collection


The Friends of Ateneum Collection of donations today includes 26 works of art; 24 paintings and two sculptures, plus Helene Schjerfbeck's five sketchbooks and a hundred sketches.

The association's original purpose was to help Ateneum acquire older foreign art. Its first acquisition was Ecce Homo (1644) by the Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, purchased the same year the Friends was founded, 1919. In the 1920s Ateneum received Eugène Delacroix's watercolour Mazeppa (1824), Govaert Flinck's painting Joseph's Bloodied Cloak (1655), and a small tempera on wood, Saint Roch (1574), presumably by a master of the Francesco Francia school. By 1926 the number of Friends had dwindled, and it was decided to use the remaining funds for acquiring a painting by a Finnish artist, In the Ruins of the Marcellus Theatre (1820) by Alexander Lauréus.

There followed a long period of silence for the Friends of Ateneum. The next acquisition in the collection is an early Self-Portrait (1884–1885) by Helene Schjerfbeck, purchased with support from the Friends, and donated at the inauguration of the renovated Ateneum building in May 1991. In 1993 the Friends donated Anitra Lucander's large painting The Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1957), and in 1996 Valle Rosenberg's Self-Portrait (1908) together with the first sculpture in the collection, Terho Sakki's Expectation (1958). To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the association was again instrumental in acquiring a painting by Helene Schjerfbeck, this time a portrait, Einar Reuter III (1919-1920), which Ateneum received in November 1999. In 2002 the association purchased its second painting by Alexander Lauréus, Party at the Parsonage (1815).
Other recent donations are thirteen watercolours by Sulho Sipilä (ca. 1917–1923) which were also seen in Ateneum's exhibition The Story of Halle and Tiva in 2005, and Laila Pullinen's sculpture ...Art Wrapped up as well (1967) which was bought in 2006.

The Friends' donation In the Rocking Chair, Anni Bremer (1908) by Hugo Simberg was announced as part of Ateneum Art Museum's 120th anniversary celebrations on 13 October 2008.

In 2011 the Friends donated to the Ateneum Art Museum five of Helene Schjerfbeck's sketchbooks, a hundred sketches, photographs and other archive material. Previously, there were no Schjerfbeck's sketchbooks in Ateneum's collections. The sketchbooks and some of the sketches were displayed to the public for the first time in Ateneum's Helene Schjerfbeck exhibition in 2012.

The Collections web service of the Finnish National Gallery provides basic information on the works and artists in the Friends of Ateneum collection.