Fokus gallery: Inspired by the von Wright Brothers

Ferdinand von Wright: An Eagle-Owl Seizes a Hare (1860). Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Museokuva.

The theme of the Ateneum’s summer season 2020 is ‘inspiration’. Art classics have, through the ages, served as sources of inspiration for artists and designers. The exhibition staged in the Fokus gallery looks at works by the von Wright brothers that have inspired, for example, craft enthusiasts and street fashion designers. The exhibition Inspiration – Contemporary Art & Classics, which is on show from 18 June to 20 September 2020, focuses on the same theme.


The Fokus exhibition gallery presents concise displays, with selected artists or themes from the Ateneum collection.

Artist brothers Magnus (1805–1868), Wilhelm (1810–1887) and Ferdinand (1822–1906) von Wright liked to depict birds, fish, plants and landscapes in their artworks, based on meticulous natural observation. The familiar and vivid motifs make their works easily accessible.

Ferdinand von Wright’s The Fighting Capercaillies (1886) is the most reproduced artwork in Finland even to this day. It has spread to Finnish homes in countless oil paintings, embroideries and wall hangings, and it has also appeared on stamps and Arabia year plates. The painting is immediately recognised by most Finns, and over the decades it has served as inspiration for many artists.

The von Wright brothers’ works on natural motifs have also inspired contemporary street fashion design. Their highly detailed motifs, rendered with scientific accuracy, have been used on skateboards, or as silk screen patterns on printed fabrics.

The exhibition features 19 works and a number of sketchbooks by the von Wright brothers. Other features include Makia Clothing sketches that capture the process of designing clothes, and skateboards by Seven Inch Skateboards. The Fighting Capercaillies is on display as part of the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition in the Classics gallery.

From 18 June 2020, the exhibition Inspiration – Contemporary Art & Classics, which presents contemporary works inspired by the classics of European art, will be shown on the third floor of the Ateneum Art Museum.

Go to the exhibition page

Let the works of art in the Ateneum collection inspire you

The Finnish National Gallery website includes 12,000 copyright-free images of works of art that can be used, shared, and edited by anyone. These images may be used freely, as the copyright term of the works (70 years after the end of the year in which the artist died) has expired. Use the images as you want, and let art inspire you! 

Go to the Finnish National Gallery website

Learn more about works by the von Wright brothers 

You can check out all the works by the von Wright brothers in the Finnish National Gallery collection on the Finnish National Gallery website.

Learn more about works by Ferdinand von Wright

Learn more about works by Magnus von Wright

Learn more about works by Wilhelm von Wright

Watch the short film: Ferdinand von Wright – The Fighting Capercaillies (1886)

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