- About Ateneum
Severin Falkman’s painting is one of the most important works deposited in the Presidential Palace in 1920. It may be considered Falkman’s magnum opus.
Before his election as King of Sweden in 1448, Karl Knutsson Bonde ruled relatively independently over much of Finland from the castle of Vyborg. His accession to the throne led to conflicts between Sweden and Denmark over the leadership of the Kalmar Union. In Sweden, Knutsson Bonde is considered one of the early representatives of Swedish national sentiment.
The prominent placement of Falkman’s work in the Presidential Palace can be interpreted as a kind of symbolic changeover of power in the newly independent Finland. The canvas was hung on the wall of the president’s reception hall on the second floor of the palace to replace Fighting at Lappohja, a picture of Russian soldiers by Wladimir Swertschkoff. It is interesting to note that the last Russian ruler of Finland, Nicholas II, was related to Knutsson Bonde through his mother, Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Princess Dagmar of Denmark. The memory of Russian oppression during the reign of Nicholas II to curb the country’s autonomy was still fresh in the minds of Finns in 1920.