Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Poor Girl


Oil on canvas.

52,0 cm x 39,0 cm.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931) painted Poor Girl (1890) during his honeymoon in the regions of Kuhmo and White Karelia. The artist and his newlywed wife Mary were staying at a smallholding in Lapinsalmi, Kuhmo, where life was very modest, even impoverished. Gallen-Kallela admired the resilience of the destitute part of the population, which led him to make various sketches of the locals, their lives and their ways. He only finished a handful of oil paintings during the journey, however. The model for this painting was Kaisa Haverinen, a 14-year-old girl from the farm, whom the artist portrayed in the soft light of the cottage, holding a piece of bark bread. In the Pietist fashion, she is chanting a hymn as thanks for her meagre meal.