A Spring Atmosphere
Having studied for two years at the Finnish Art Society’s school in the Ateneum, Hugo Simberg travelled to Ruovesi to paint under the guidance of the artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Simberg lived with locals in the midst of the northern wilderness. Life in the hinterlands had is drawbacks. Food and lodgings were very basic, and the behaviour of his hosts sometimes left a lot to be desired. Already in his first place of lodging in Sammalisto’s cottage, Simberg’s romantic ideas of the unspoilt, indigenous inhabitants of the countryside were put to the test.
“My landlord continues to get drunk three times a week, and then he makes the most awful noise.” … “Otherwise he is a very decent fellow, and has been entrusted with many municipal duties.”
– Hugo Simberg in a letter to his twin brother, Paul, on 6 September and 20 October 1895. Hugo Simberg Archive, Finnish National Gallery.
Though brought up in the family of a civil servant in the town of Viipuri, Simberg came into contact with commoners at the family’s summer residence, Niemenlautta. He became friends with many of the farmhands and used them as sitters for his works. Simberg often sketched his graphic works quickly on-site, but particularly when planning his paintings he had great help from photographs.
Red Ochre Housepainters belongs to the collections of the Tampere Art Museum.