Wäinö Aaltonen (1894–1966) was the most important sculptor in the early years of Finland's independence. Aaltonen made several public sculptures of great national value, including the figures in the House of Parliament in the 1930's. The cityscape of Turku is embellished with a total of 11 outdoor sculptures by the artist. In Runeberg Park stands Turun Lilja (Lily of Turku). Opposite is Paavo Nurmen patsas (Statue of Paavo Nurmi). Aaltonen was a romantic artist whose paintings and sculptures often were of idealised nature and included Cubist features. His portrait production clearly shows the respect he had for the personalities of the people who modelled for him.
Works of Wäinö Aaltonen in the Turku City Art Collection
The core of the Turku City Art Collection consists of the basic collection donated by Wäinö Aaltonen. It includes drawings, sketches, graphics, paintings and sculptures by the artist, as well as his works from his years at school. The collection is supplemented with acquisitions and donations. In the lobby of the museum, visitors are greeted by one of the larger works of the collection, over four metres tall but still feminine Suomen neito (Maiden of Finland). Works of Aaltonen are on display at different exhibitions, and some of his works are on permanent display at the premises surrounding the atrium of the museum.
Wäinö Aaltonen collected an extensive library of approximately 8000 volumes. Besides art literature, the committed bibliophile was interested in Finnish and foreign fiction and non-fiction. The oldest book of the library is a doctoral thesis from the 16th century, which says much of the uniqueness of the collection. When the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art was being founded, the private library of the artist was brought to its current location at the premises of the museum.