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It is very pleasant to see paintings here. They have big collections. Other arts have a greater effect on me than the music of other composers.
- Jean Sibelius in letter to Aino Sibelius from Munich, 28 July 1894
Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius. Ateneum Art Museum jumps the gun on the festivities in October by mounting an extensive jubilee exhibition that explores the composer's contacts with the art scene of his day.
Sibelius was an inspiration to many artists, and he himself was surrounded by art in many ways: his home in the cultural landscape at Lake Tuusula, his circle of artist friends and relatives, and the art collection at Ainola provided a varied background for his work as a composer. Completed in 1892, Sibelius’s tone poem En Saga inspired Akseli Gallen-Kallela to paint an eponymous work two years later. In 1909, a trip to the Koli wilderness with his brother-in-law, Eero Järnefelt, gave Sibelius the inspiration for his fourth symphony, which he dedicated to Järnefelt.
Sibelius and the World of Art explores the links between the composer’s work and the art scene of his time, both on a personal level as well as in the context of the art movements of the day. The show covers Sibelius’s youth and his international breakthrough, fantasies and myths about the famous composer, as well as his symphonic landscapes and nature motifs. The portraits in the exhibition show us the composer both as a young genius and as the subject of the unique Sibelius Monument of the late 1960s.
The exhibition is produced by the Ateneum Art Museum in collaboration with the Ainola Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in Finnish, Swedish and English.