Was Finland the poor eastern province of the Swedish Empire after all? Many previously unseen artefacts from museum and private collections can now be admired at the Häme Castle. Finland was home to a number of silver smitheries, where masters and their apprentices forged everything imaginable from dishes to knives, forks and church silver. The skilfully engraved decorations, initials and coats of arms on luxury items speak of exquisite craftsmanship and also remind us of the history Finland and Sweden shared for almost 700 years.
The exhibition showcases more than 200 masterpieces by Finnish silversmiths. The Tre Kronor – Made in Finland exhibition, displayed in Läckö Castle in Sweden in summer 2017, has been supplemented at Häme Castle with Empire period silver. One third of the artefacts come from the collections of the National Museum of Finland and two thirds have been loaned from collections of Finnish museums and private collectors as well as from the National Museum in Stockholm. Exhibition curators Jouni Kuurne and Arthur Aminoff have revised the exhibition to suit Häme Castle.
Turku was the first city in Finland to have an established goldsmiths’ trade guild, probably as early as in the mid-16th century. A goldsmith was a master working with gold, silver and precious jewels. The title silversmith was in fact created as late as in the 20th century. The guilds supervised the craftsmanship of master goldsmiths and the quality of their work by, for example, inspecting the silver content of the items they created. Finnish silversmiths produced high-quality work. In Western Finland, stylistic influences came from Sweden and in the East, particularly from St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, the Russian influences started to gradually become more evident, for example, in heavier design and abundant decorations.
The exhibition showcases works by goldsmiths operating in different parts of Finland, such as the rococo tureen made by Nils Enberg in Turku in 1766 that once belonged to President Urho Kekkonen, perhaps the finest silver object made in Finland during the 18th century. A gilded silver tankard, acquired by the National Museum in 2018 after a long history of private ownership, made by master goldsmith Axel Hansson Båga in Turku probably in 1680, is also displayed at the exhibition.
A publication entitled Hohto – Suomalainen hopea 1600–1830-luvuilta (LUSTRE– Finnish silver from the 1600s to 1830s) is published in connection with the exhibition and presents some of the masterpieces by Finnish silversmiths with expert articles and magnificent photographs. The articles of this nearly 400-page publication discuss the work of gold and silversmiths in, for example, Helsinki and Vyborg, which had a unique artefact culture unlike that of any other city in Finland. Furthermore, the articles discuss the emergence of various stylistic trends both in the silver items and in their decorative motifs. The publication is available in Finnish and Swedish and available for purchase at the museum shops of the National Museum of Finland and Häme Castle, among other places.
HOHTO – SUOMALAINEN HOPEA 1600–1830
LYSTER – FINSKT SILVER 1600–1830
Ed. Jouni Kuurne
National Board of Antiquities 2018, 371 p., paperback ed., ISBN 978-951-616-294-5
Publications of the National Museum of Finland 15, ISSN 2343-1180, price €55,90
Media examples of the publication: Communications Coordinator Sari Häkkinen, email@example.com, tel. +358 295 33 6043
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