Eteläkarjalainen maisema

Eteläkarjalainen maisema
Tässä blogissa on sekä kuvia että tarinoita upean Etelä-Karjalan luonnosta, ihmisistä ja kulttuurista. Kuvassa syyskuinen näkymä Saimaan kanavan varrelta.

sunnuntai 6. marraskuuta 2016

Painter of Raattamaa's portrait died in the USA (Haaparannanlehti 01/27/1959)

Part of Raattamaa's portrait
The following article is mainly based on release of article in Haaparannanlehti 01/27/1959, which I have, however, edited and perfected. Initially, a direct quote from the article:

"In (many) Laestadian homes along Tornio and Muonio river valleys there is a portrait of Juhani Raattamaa, a preacher from Lapland as a result of Selim Töyrä’s brush. According to the information we have just received from America, has well known painter Selim Alfred Töyrä died  there on 22:nd  November 1958. Ylimuonio, Finland native Töyrä worked for several decades as an art school teacher and in addition as a freelance artist in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Muonio 11/13/1875 and died Stats Metropolitan (probably refers to the Metropolitan State Hospital) hospital in Norwalk 11/22/1958. He was blessed and cremated at Utter-McKinley Broadway chapel in Los Angeles on 28th November, 1958. "

The funeral was submitted by pastor of the local Finnish church, Omar Halme. [1]

Töyrä's Raattamaa portrait as a whole picture

Muonio native Alfred Selim Töyrä was coming from a peasant family. Töyrä’s father was an independent farmer, a man skilled in his hands: he made locks, guns and so on [2]. Selim went to elementary school, which was neither in the home village nor in the neighboring village, but in the village of Hetta (which was the center of Enontekio parish and municipality). The distance from home was 80 km. The way to the school he made cross-country skiing, and sometimes in reindeer sled. In two years, Selim was able to take all courses in elementary school. A little later he moved to  Helsinki to pursue art studies. [3] Father would have preferred that his son would become a public servant than a starving artist. By and by, Töyrä settled in Tornio [4], where he painted diligently. There was completed a large painting  "Ascension of Christ", which is still in the prayer house of Haparanda Peace Association (Local Apostolic Lutheran congregation). It was bought by teacher Angelica Laestadius from Töyrä. [5] This way Mr Töyrä got the money for his family’s  journey to America, where they left 04/08/1903. [6] Old townspeople have told how Töyrä, while living in Tornio region, gathered suitable old men to the hill on Palovaara, and this way was well known painting born, in which still (ie the 1950s) some townspeople will identify some of the characters. Töyrä owned in Chicago a façade painting company, but maintaining it did not satisfy his artistic ambitions. So he sold it and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked mainly as a portraitist. Several well-known film stars were his clients. Töyrä achieved fame as a painter and he was appointed to professor in the University of  Los Angeles.

Bror Hjort’s (1958) church altar painting in Jukkasjärvi church.

Laestadian preacher Juhani Raattama’s portrait was completed in the end of 1800s when Raattamaa was on his preaching trip in Ylimuonio. [7] Here (in Ylimuonio) it is shown even today the room, where Selim , around the age of 20,  used his brush. According to the newspaper Haaparannanlehti "modern viewer will see in that Raattamaa picture a glow of van Gogh, and it occurs over an unusually strong descriptive power. If we look at the characteristic of the face and, above all, clumsy hands." The work has been featured in exhibitions and attracted so much attention that the image was published in Annex of “Young Finnish” Christmas album. Raattamaa portrait Töyrä made once, is clearly recognizable in the artist Bror Hjort’s (1958) church altar painting in Jukkasjärvi church. At the turn of the century, among many other paintings of Lapland was also compiled the portrait of “Ies-Pieti”, ie Pietari Vasara, a preacher from Karesuanto.

Interior view of Haparanda Peace Association.
On the wall SelimTöyry's painting  "Ascension of Christ"

Töyrä visited his native country in the 1910s, after his wife’s and two children’s death. [8] He came back again immediately to America, where he then lived the final stages of his life. His paintings "Broken Languages" and "The Origin of America's star flag" awarded in competitions, and opened the doors for him to Ateneum Art in Los Angeles. He never forgot his home region Muonio, its colorful autumns plus and the sunny midsummer days. Homesickness to North seems to “hurt” his heart until recent years. After the war, Töyrä donated a large-sized painting called "Transfigured Christ on the bank of Jordan" to Ylimuonio prayer house of. This last greeting from son of Muonio, however, was transferred to the parish church, as the small prayer house in  Ylimuonio couldn’t provide the necessary perspective for Selim Töyrä’s  work, which is a real attraction, not only for the parishioners, but also for tourists.

[1] Also, the California State Death Index confirms the date of death 22 November 1958. The 1940 census says Selim Töyrä lived in the city's 14th district.
[2] Selim Töyrä’s father Mikko Rauhala Juhonpoika (subs. Töyrä) came from Kittilä. Mikko Rauhala moved to Muonio, Ylimuonio village, where he purchases “Tapani farm” and began live there. Mikko Töyrä’s wife since 1855 was Elsa Maria Charlesdaughter Mäki, or Örn, a native of Muonio. From this marriage was born eleven children, of whom Selim was the ninth. Töyrä’s mother was reported to be a "devout Christian".
[3] Selim Töyrä studied in Helsinki at the Finnish Art Society’s drawing school.
[4] Töyrä moved from Ylimuonio to Tornio in 1901.
[5] The city’s upper class tried to help Töyrä by buying his paintings. He did not succeed by means of revenues to provide living for himself and family..
[7] Töyrä accompanied in the exhibition of Finnish artists at the Ateneum in 1897 with Juhani Raattama’s portrait. It is his most famous his early work. The painting attracted so much attention that it was published in in Annex of the “Young Finland” Christmas album.
[8] Selim Töyrä married with Senia Eveliina Jacobdaughter Saarela (1880-1909). Töyrä bought his bride a sewing machine, which caused uppsett among his then-contributers. In United States were four children born to Töyrä family. Wife returned later back to Finland.

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