Victor Westerholm (Finnish, 1860-1919) Eckerön postilaituri (The Post Office landing site at Eckerö) signed with initials 'V.W.' (lower left) oil on canvas 13 3/8 x 19¼ in. (34 x 49 cm.)
Artist or Maker
Victor Westerholm (Finnish, 1860-1919)
Eckerön postilaituri (The Post Office landing site at Eckerö) is a smaller version of Victor Westerholm's masterpiece of a similar title painted towards the end of his stay in Düsseldorf (1879-1886). The motif of the pier had long been a popular subject with the artists at the Düsseldorf Art Academy but Westerholm's teacher Eugen Dücker introduced in the 1870s a new focus on the daily life of the inhabitants of shores and islands. Thus the main theme of Eckerön postilaituri (The Post Office landing site at Eckerö) is inspired by Dücker and the relationship between the teacher and the pupil is manifest. However, Westerholm's composition and modelling are definitively based upon nature and reflect his own keen interest in nature and issues related to colour and shape.
'Simplicity, atmosphere and poetry' are keywords Westerholm mentions in a letter to Professor B.O. Schauman, his mentor in Helsinki, regarding the present painting. 'He [Westerholm] has made the unpretentious landing in the archipelago look monumental, still remaining within the boundaries of naturalism by slightly enlarging the scale and perspective' (A. Reitala, Victor Westerholm, Helsinki, 1967, p. 87). The horizon has been opened, and the foreground neutralized. Placing people in the middle gives the painting an epic reach which was important for Westerholm. The figures, most of them friends of Westerholm, are not depicted in a personalised way or with social reference; their minds and movements are focused on the steamer appearing in the background while the rainy weather emphasizes the intense feeling of waiting. The colours are fresh but subordinate to the mood of the picture. Westerholm depicts the humidity of the air with the same painterly aspirations as the Finns in Paris explored the grey hues of the Parisian atmosphere. Derived from the Düsseldorf tradition Westerholm's Eckerön postilaituri (The Post Office landing site at Eckerö) is a fine, early example of French naturalism in Finland.
The present version was probably commissioned and painted shortly after the original was first exhibited in the summer of 1885 in Düsseldorf and afterwards in the autumn of the same year in Helsinki at the annual exhibition of the Finnish Artists' Association.