Akseli Gallen-Kallela (26 April 1865 – 7 March 1931) was a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. His work is considered a very important aspect of the Finnish national identity. He changed his name from Gallén to Gallen-Kallela in 1907.
Life and career
Gallen-Kallela was born Axel Waldemar Gallén in Pori, Finland, in a Swedish-speaking family. His father Peter Gallén worked as police chief and lawyer. Gallen-Kallela was raised in Tyrvää. At the age of 11 he was sent to Helsinki to study at a grammar school, because his father opposed his ambition to become a painter. After his father's death in 1879, Gallen-Kallela attended drawing classes at the Finnish Art Society (1881–1884) and studied privately under Adolf von Becker.
In 1884 he moved to Paris, to study at the Académie Julian. In Paris he became friends with the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt, the Norwegian painter