Sergei Diaghilev’s 1898 Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Art exemplifies how Finland’s economic prosperity and relative autonomy as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire led to transcultural exchange.
Unfortunately the Russification Programme, initiated in 1899, changed an amicable relationship between the Russian Empire and its Finnish territory to one of oppression. The Finnish Pavilion at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle demonstrates how quickly Finland’s embrace of nineteenth-century nationalism transformed from a cultural blossoming to a politicised quest for autonomy. A moment of artistic potential quickly dissolved into one of oppression and resistance.
Ksenia Pavlenko is an MPhil candidate in History of Art, supervised by Dr. Polly Blakesley, researching the visual culture of Finland as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.
Image credit: Magnus Enckell, Death's Walk, 1896.