The concept of the sublime was developed in philosophy. Landscape paintings embodied the sublime in views of mountains, cloud formations in the sky, or the turbulent waters of rapids. There was an increasing interest in wild northern nature.
As far back as the early 19th century, Finnish landscapes were captured on lithographs, which were then sold in portfolios. The pictures also included some built environments. The idea originally came from the writer Zachris Topelius, according to whom nature, people and culture are a single entity. An opposite view was held by the poet J. L. Runeberg, whose romantic idea was that untamed nature and pristine wilderness represent the very opposite of culture and were important for that very reason. An untouched lake landscape seen from high above was, for a long time, an ideal type of Finnish landscape.
Werner Holmberg (1830–1860) was considered an artistic prodigy in his time. Although his career remained short, he had a crucial influence on Finnish landscape painting. He was the first Finnish artist of note to study art in Düsseldorf, Germany. Holmberg combined the academic studio tradition with a realistic style of painting that was close to nature. He wandered in the outdoors with a sketchbook, recording his impressions. This enabled him to impart a sense of realism and credibility to the painting when completed in the studio. Consumption cut his career short at the age of just 29.