Emil Wikström:
Elias Lönnrot and Väinämöinen, 1902
Lönnrot Park, Lönnrotinkatu 5-7, Kamppi

Elias Lönnrot and Väinämöinen

The massive Elias Lönnrot statue dominates Lönnrot’s Street along the way of a small parkland between the Old Church and the Ressu Senior High School. Emil Wikström had won the nationally important statue -competition in 1899. However, the artist was not happy with the initial drafts of the statue and it was completely re-designed in Paris. It was brass-cast in Brussels.

After many events and set-backs the statue was unveiled 18 October 1902. The initiative had come from the Finnish Literature Association and the project was carried out after some passionate and civic-minded fundraising efforts. However, the statue was never officially unveiled as a ”gang” of three characters had come at night before to remove the canvas covering the statue. A huge crowd turned up early lining up the streets in the morning. According to press reports, "slowly a huge number of decorative celebration wreaths started accumulating by the statue, sent by the citizens from every corner of our country. Put together of junipers, heathers and moss, they brought greetings from even the most distant Finnish backwoods."

This depiction of Lönnrot is writing down the great sayings of Väinämöinen from Vipunen. In front of the statue a sitting lady cuts her hair to produce strings for Väinämöinen’s instrument - kantele. The maiden, in also very periodical fashion, represents the lyrical goddess of poetry, Lönnrot’s muse, just like in other European traditions of the time. The dreamy maiden reflects an idealistic view of people waiting for the awakening of nationalistic consciousness set by their teacher.