Rocks of Sorrento
Department of Art after 1800
Akseli Gallen-Kallela is one of the towering figures in Finnish art history. Around the end of the nineteenth century, his early realism gave way to a stylised and decorative form of symbolism. This patriotic artist frequently chose themes from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. In his landscapes, he celebrated the unique beauty of Finnish countryside: in this little painting, he placed particular emphasis on capturing the piercing light of the warm summer sun and the atmosphere of the waterside scenery.
The artist employed an unusual overhead perspective to show us the young man, crouching at the top of a hill, as he spies on the unsuspecting girls bathing below, completely oblivious to the interest they are arousing. The slightly ironic title encourages comparisons between this modern-day “Peeping Tom” and the mythological faun, constantly in pursuit of nymphs. This parallel underlines the timelessness of the painting’s subject, which is human curiosity and desire.
Gallen-Kallela maintained close links with Hungary, where he regularly sent his works to exhibitions. The Young Faun was displayed in 1906 at the international exhibition held by the Society of Fine Arts, where it was purchased for the Museum of Fine Arts.
This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.