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Gustaf Nyström: Fountain at the house of the Estates, 1893. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum

Fountain at the house of the Estates

Artist Gustaf Nyström

, Helsinki

Gustaf Nyström was one of the most prominent Finnish architects at the turn of the century. His works include the State Archives and the House of the Estates. He was also an important teacher and director of the Polytechnical school, where he also held a professorship after the school became a university. The fountain in the yard of the House of the Estates, completed in 1890, is also Nyström’s. It was completed in 1893. The water gushes from the top level, which also forms a pool, of the round fountain, flows down to the second level and surges out of the mouths of four masks and continues by way of the four heads on the bottom level into four semicircular pools.

The masks lend liveliness to the composition of curving shapes and round planes. They are comical and roguish crosses of human and animal, or perhaps they are Venetian carnival masks. They balance wonderfully the authoritarian monumentalism of the facing building which was where the three estates below the rank of nobility of the Finnish Diet assembled during Finland’s autonomy under Russian rule. The House of the Estates also includes a frieze by Emil Wikström, titled Alexander I and the Porvoo Diet 1809.

The fountain doesn’t belong to the collections of the Helsinki Art Museum.

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