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Jussi Mäntynen: Mesikämmen muurahaispesällä / The Bear on the Anthill, 1931. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. © Photo: Helsinki Art Museum / Maija Toivanen

Mesikämmen muurahaispesällä/ The Bear on the Anthill

Artist Jussi Mäntynen

Karhupuisto, Kallio, Helsinki

Although Jussi Mäntynen (1886-1978) was trained in drawing and woodwork, his appointment in 1910 as the assistant of the preparer at the University of Helsinki’s Department of Zoology was much more significant to his career as an artist. In 1919 he became the Department’s taxidermist and remained in the post for the next 20 years. Thanks to this, he achieved an accuracy and liveliness in depicting animals which no one before him, save for the von Wright brothers, could have matched. The bear, the totem animal of ancient Finland, is depicted stooping on top of an anthill. The massiveness and stylized, yet realistic expression of the work hold power over the surroundings. Mäntynen’s work is a combination of anatomical exactness and natural composition. The work conveys strength and self-respect.

The sculpture is cut in red granite. It was unveiled in 1931 and it belongs to the collections of the Helsinki Art Museum.

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