Tag Archives: Baltic Vacation

Halosenniemi – The Home of Pekka Halonen in Tuusula, Finland

Pekka Halonen (September 23, 1865 – December 1, 1933) was a painter of Finnish landscapes and people. He lived with his family in a home and studio on Lake Tuusula in Järvenpää, Finland that he, himself, designed and named Halosenniemi. The beautiful and serene building is now a museum that includes original furnishings and Halonen’s own art on the walls. There, on the shores of Lake Tuusula where Pekka Halonen resided, an artists’ community developed and flourished, helping to develop a sense of Finnish national identity. Halosenniemi was designed with the two story studios of Paris in mind with high ceilings and tall windows in the studio and second floor living quarters accessible by a set of stairs and a balcony that overlooked the studio. Adjacent to the house, Halonen built a sauna and, in typical Finnish tradition, the sauna also served as a laundry. Halonen stated that he never painted for anyone but himself. He felt that “Art should not jar the nerves like sandpaper – it should produce a feeling of peace.” Continue reading

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Ainola – The Home of Jean Sibelius in Järvenpää, Finland

In Finland, a short drive from Helsinki lies Ainola, the home of the noted Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in Järvenpää on Lake Tuusula. Sibelius and his family moved into the house in 1904. During construction of Ainola, Sibelius had two requests: that his study should have a green fireplace and a view of Lake Tuusula. Sibelius’s works are widely admired and are considered to have contributed to the development of the Finnish national identity. Sibelius usually composed his works in his head, writing them down only after he had thoroughly developed them. On his 50th birthday, he received the gift of a grand piano, which he accepted with some reluctance since he did not use a piano to compose. He preferred to work in silence and so, when his five daughters were at play, they were sure to stay far enough away from the house so that their father could not hear them. Sibelius was born on 8 December 1865 and died on 20 September 1957. He and his wife Aino are buried in the garden of Ainola. In 1967, a monument to Sibelius was unveiled in Helsinki. The artist, Eila Hiltunen, created an abstract sculpture of 600 hollow steel pipes welded together. Although the objective of the artist was to capture the essence of Sibelius’s music, the sculpture was so controversial that Hiltunen was asked to create an additional sculpture of the likeness of Sibelius which was installed close to the original abstract monument. Continue reading

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Around the Monplaisir Palace at Peterhof

I didn’t take any photos of the Monplaisir Palace at Peterhof, but I did take some photos in the area around Monplaisir. As with the rest of Peterhof, fountains abounded, but the grounds were dotted with interesting buildings including the gazebo shown below. The quickest way back from Peterhof to the center of St. Peterburg turned out to be by hydrofoil which, I was told, operates something like an airplane wing. As the boat gains speed, the hydrofoil generates lift which raises the boat out of the water, reducing drag, and increasing speed. Continue reading

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The Lower Gardens at Peterhof

As impressive as the Upper Gardens are, the Lower Gardens at Peterhof are simply breathtaking. Fountains abound, with golden figures as their focal points. From the grand palace above, water plows down the grand cascade to a fountain depicting Samson and the Lion. From there the water flows through a channel to the Gulf of Finland. Elsewhere in the Lower Gardens is a fountain showing a Triton Fighting a Sea Monster, surrounded by small turtle fountains. A remarkable feature of Peterhof is that the individual fountains are not powered by pumps. The fountains are powered by hydrostatic pressure – the difference in height between the ponds that hold the water for the fountains and the fountains themselves. Continue reading

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The Upper Gardens at Peterhof

Peterhof, sometimes called the Russian Versailles, was Peter the Great’s palace in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, Russia. Although construction of Peterhof began under Peter the Great, the grand palace was completed by his daughter Elizabeth. It is a popular Russian tourist attraction, primarily because of the spectacular fountains on the grounds, although the upper gardens consist mainly of formal plantings of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Continue reading

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The St. Petersburg Hermitage as Art Itself

The main museum facilities of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is a complex of six buildings, the greatest of which is the Winter Palace. The Winter Palace was the residence of the Russian Monarchs from 1762 to February 1917 and, as such, the details in the floors, ceilings, and walls are all artworks in themselves. The building of the New Hermitage, connected to the Winter Palace, includes the Raphael Loggias, which were copied from a gallery in the Vatican Palace. Continue reading

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Sculptures in the St. Petersburg, Russia Hermitage

While the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia holds many sculptures, I photographed few of them because either the lighting was unsuitable or it was difficult to obtain a photograph because there were too many people milling about. Nonetheless, here are four of the sculptures from the Hermitage. Continue reading

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Art in the St. Petersburg Hermitage #2

Continuing on through the Hermitage, I encountered artworks by Paul Cezanne, Henri Edmond Cross, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Maurice de Vlaminck. Their works show a wide range of styles from post-impressionism, pointillism, fauvism, and cubism. Continue reading

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Art in the St. Petersburg Hermitage #1

I visited the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia and was surprised to learn that non-flash photography of the artwork was permitted. Unfortunately, I discovered that most of the photos I took in the Hermitage were unusable due to camera movement during the long exposures needed to capture an image. In addition, because of reflections, I had to take most of the photos at an angle and, while I was able to compensate for the oblique shots somewhat by editing the images in Photoshop, the resulting images are not exact representations of the art itself. Nonetheless, I was pleased with the fact that I was able to obtain any photos at all. Continue reading

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The Church on Spilt Blood

The Church on Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg Russia is an amazing structure inside and out, although on my trip I did not visit the interior. The church was constructed to commemorate the death of Czar Alexander II who was assassinated on this spot on 13 Mar 1881. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III and was completed in 1907 during the reign of Nicholas II. The church suffered significant damage during World War II; some of the damage can still be seen. The church has been deconsecrated and is used as a museum. The Mikhalovskiy garden is adjacent to the church. Continue reading

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