PAINTINGS VISIT ARTISTS MEDIA
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Thomas Cole
Title: The Defense of the Sampo
Date Created: 1896
Dimensions: 122 cm × 125 cm (48 in × 49 in)
Type: Paintings
Medium: Tempera
Location: Turku Art Museum, Turku
The Defense of the Sampo is an 1896 Romantic nationalist painting by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The painting illustrates a passage from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century. The scene portrayed is taken from the 43rd song of the epic, where the hero Väinämöinen, seen wielding a sword, has stolen the precious artifact Sampo from the evil witch Louhi, and she, having taken the form of a giant bird, is trying to reclaim it. The battle for the Sampo is also given a deeper connotation as a battle for the soul of Finland. When the painting was first exhibited, it received widespread attention and was considered to be Gallen-Kallela's finest work. Gallen-Kallela's vision of a warlike Väinämöinen was seen as a radical departure from the old, gray-bearded sage of older renditions. In the painting, Väinämöinen's long, flowing white hair and beard are dramatically contrasted by his strong, muscular body.
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