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Juho Felix Talvia: Two Bears, 1921. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum

Kaksi Karhua / Two Bears

Artist Juho Feliks Talvia

Museokatu 23, Etu-Töölö, Helsinki

The red-brick apartment building at Museokatu 23 was completed in 1921. It was designed by master builder Leuto Armas Pajunen whose work includes several apartment buildings, schools, factories and farm buildings as well as sail boats, furniture and lamps. This particular building is one of a several which have a so called central kitchen, a speciality of Pajunen’s from 1919 onwards. For instance, the Helsinki Culinary School Perho began in such a building.

The building is remarkable for its curving facade and high staircase, which face the intersection of Museokatu and Oksasenkatu streets. The two granite bears guard the steps to the entrance. Although the identity of the artist is not known for certain, the bears are believed to be the work of Juho Feliks Talvia, a deaf sculptor who worked in, for example, Emil Wikström’s studio. While Talvia is also believed to be the author of several facade sculptures, this belief has never been confirmed.

One of the bears was vandalized in the 1960s and although it was removed for several years, it was finally repaired and returned to the delight of the passers-by. Bears don’t belong to the collections of the Helsinki Art Museum.

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