Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Burnt Forest


Oil on canvas.

30,5 cm x 41,3 cm.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931) painted Burnt Forest (1904) in Konginkangas, a location in central Finland on the shore of Lake Keitele, where the artist and his family spent the summer of 1904. The painting depicts burn-beaten forest, where new life can be seen sprouting from amid the charred tree trunks. It can be seen as simultaneously realist and symbolist, describing Finland’s natural diversity while also being linked to Gallen-Kallela’s nationalist ideology, by which the fallen, burnt and dead trees reflected the difficult political situation of the day and the years of Russian tyranny. At the centre of the painting is a black woodpecker, which for the artist symbolised independence and freedom.