Axel Haartman – a multi-talented artist

Artist, writer, art dealer and museum director

Axel Haartman (1877–1969) was multi-talented in a range of cultural fields; an artist, a writer, an art reviewer, an illustrator, an advertising artist, a journalist, an art dealer and head of an art museum.

He studied at the Finnish Art Society’s Drawing School in Turku at the age of twelve, continued his art studies at the Finnish Art Society’s Drawing School in Helsinki and later studied under such names as P. S. Kröyer in Copenhagen and Wassily Kandinsky in Munich.

Inspiration from abroad

Axel Haartman travelled a great deal and lived abroad in Florence, Rome and Paris on several occasions in his life. The Haartmans spent more than a year in Italy on their honeymoon in 1898–1900. He worked as an illustrator and designed book covers, textile patterns, ceramic stoves, and furniture. Besides art reviews, as a journalist, he also wrote travelogues of his journeys to Paris and Spain.

Axel Haartman also taught at Turku Drawing School (1907–10) and worked at art dealer Gösta Stenman’s gallery, Stenmans Konstsalong, in Helsinki. In 1923 Axel Haartman was appointed curator of Turku Art Museum, a post he held for thirty years, becoming a central figure in the world of art. Axel Haartman was an active member of the Naantali Museum Association, and he was involved in the town’s affairs.

His own works and those of others

Casa Haartman displays Axel Haartman’s own artworks but also works by artists such as Victor Westerholm, Ferdinand von Wright, Fanny Churberg, Albert Edelfelt and Casper Wrede, who was Axel Haartman’s uncle on his mother’s side. It also contains works by contemporary artists such as Wäinö Aaltonen and Ragnar Ungern.

Axel Haartman was extremely interested in interior design, designing the wallpaper in the home and painting the ceiling frescoes in the entrance hall and the library.

He often took the subjects for his art from the home and the garden, and his wife Hedvig (née Stolpe) was his favourite model. The couple’s summer home, Rönnudd in Kimito, was another frequent and beloved subject. The Haartmans saw their home as Axel’s greatest work of art and wanted it to be preserved in its original condition.