Eetu Isto "Hyökkäys" 1899


Oilpainting 2m x 1,4m


Edvard (more commonly known as Eetu) Isto was as a painter quite unknown. Nevertheless, he painted one of the greatest pictures of Finnish history. The Attack is his only wellknown work. He painted it in his last years, and never saw Finland’s independence, wich had always been his greatest dream.

The Attack was afamous work of art even before it actually was finished. Anyway, before Finland’s independence, it had not been shown in public. It had been shown only for small audiences secretly. The Czar of Russia and the bureaucracy chased the original painting all over Northern Europe and the artist was wanted in the whole of Russia. The painting or its copieo were spread into many Finnish homes and the persons, who were caught with the picture, were instantly sent to Siberia. That is why they came up with an idea: the picture itself was on the one side and it has kept in a HOLY place above the fire place, on the other side there was a picture of the Czar of Russia together with the national emblem. The picture was easy to turn to more russian friendly side when the gendarmes came to village. Pictures, the size of stamps were even in russian graduates wallets.

What then made the picture so wanted and haunted? The painting itself looks innocent. A young girl defends a great book against a two headed eagle. In the backround there is a stormy seaside. The picture`s message reveals itself in symbolic ways. The virgin is dressed in the colours of Finland, white and blue, and her belt´s buckle is the Finnish herald. The woman looks panicky and helpless. On her arms she carries the Finnish book of law wich has been Finland´s symbol for almost hundred years from the age of the authonomy. The two headed eagle is Russia´s herald animal, wich is trying to rob the book from the girl and destroy it. The stormy sea, dark sky and barren shore represents Russia´s violations and the fruitbasket laying at the virgins feet represents Finland´s far gone period of wealth. Newertheless, the new dawn rises in the skyline.

The paintings meaning for the Finnish people was in encouragement. That gave faith and strength for Finns from all layers of society to fight back Russia.The years 1898-1905 wich were called the first period of opression. That time there came the decision from a quick and trough operation of spreading Russian culture into the Finnish lifestyle.Finland almost lost its own language, independence, own money and other authonomic symbols. But we did get our independence despite all the difficulties.

By: Sarita, Essi & Janica