1865-1884 After a childhood spent in Tyrvää, where his father had founded a law firm, followed by studies in Helsinki, from 1878 to 1884 Axel Waldemar Gallén trains in draughtsmanship and technical drawing in various institutions.
1884-1888 Receives a grant from the Senate; travels to Paris where he registers at the Académie Julian (he will remain there until 1889). Studies with Bouguereau and Cormon. Paints genre scenes and in 1888 starts work on the triptych on the myth of Aino inspired by the
Finnish epic, the Kalevala. In Paris frequents Scandinavian artists who have settled in the French capital, including August Strindberg.
1889 Takes part in the World’s Fair and at the Salon de Paris. Returns to Finland, exploring the country with a friend, and paints scenes of daily life and landscapes. First solo exhibition at the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki.
1890 Weds Mary Slöör. Travels to Russian Karelia.
1891 First prize in a competition to illustrate the Kalevala. Participates in the Salon du Champ-de-Mars. Birth of a daughter.
1892 Travels through northern Finland; paints landscapes and scenes of everyday life.
1893 Forges links with artists in the ‘Nuori Suomi’ (Young Finland) group, in particular conductor Robert Kajanus and composer Jean Sibelius.
1894 Builds an isolated studio, the ‘Kalela’, in Ruovesi, after a design inspired by the architecture of the ancient dwellings of western Finland and
Karelia. Works on projects for furniture, sewing patterns, and wooden reliefs.
1895 Travels to Berlin, exhibits with Munch. His daughter dies. Journeys to London via Berlin.
1897-1898 Makes trips to Venice, St Petersburg, Warsaw and Vienna. Travels through Italy, where he learns fresco techniques. In 1898 takes part in an exhibition of Finno-Russian art organised by Serge Diaghilev in the Stieglitz Mansion, St Petersburg. Birth of a son.
1900 World’s Fair in Paris: he decorates the Finnish Pavilion designed by Eliel Saarinen, Armas Lindgren and Herman Gesellius.
1901-1904 Begins working on decorations for the Juselius Mausoleum in Pori. The subject of the frescos is the battle between life
and death; the stainedglass windows deal with the victory of the spirit over death. In 1902, on the invitation of Kandinsky, he takes part in the ‘Phalanx IV’ exhibition in Munich. Shows at the exhibition of the Wiener Secession and at the International Exhibition, Dresden.
1904 Travels to Vienna and to Spain, via Milan and Monte Carlo. Spends summer on the shores of Lake Keitele, Konginkangas, in central Finland. The frescos he had painted for the Juselius Mausoleum start to deteriorate; they will be destroyed by fire in 1931. Takes part in the 9th
exhibition of the Berlin Secession.
1907 Officially changes his surname from Gallén to Gallen-Kallela (a name he had been using since 1890). First trip to Hungary. In Berlin, he meets up with Edvard Munch and writer Adolf Paul. Ernst Heckel invites him to become a member of the ‘Die Brücke’ group; he will exhibit twice with artists from the group. Moves to Espoo, near Helsinki.
1908 Retrospective in Helsinki. Solo show of his work in Hungary. Travels to Paris, where he takes part in the Finnish exhibition organised to
coincide with the Salon d’Automne.
1909-1910 Sails from Marseilles to Nairobi. Paints many oils, primarily landscapes. Starts a collection of ethnographical artefacts and zoological specimens.
1911 Begins designs for a new studio, Tarvaspää, in Espoo. The building will be completed in 1913.
1914 Solo exhibition at the Venice Biennial. Rearranges the exhibition rooms with Elie Saarinen.
1915 Takes part in the ‘Panama Pacific Exposition’ in San Francisco, showing his African landscapes. During WWI, his family are forced to leave Tarvaspää and return to Kallela.
1918 Civil war breaks out in Finland. Gallen-Kallela joins the fight. C. G. Mannerheim, later president of Finland, puts the artist in charge of state printed matter, cartography and currency. He is also commissioned to design flags, uniforms and banknotes.
1922 The first illustrated Kalevala issued.
1923-1924 The Book of Kallela [Kallela-kirja], a selection of the painter’s memories, is published. Travels to Chicago, where a solo exhibition of his work is held. Becomes an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Arts, Berlin.
1924-1925 Stays in Taos (New Mexico), where he studies the indigenous culture.
1926 Returns to Finland, where he renovates his studio at Tarvaspää.
1927-1928 Works with his son finishing the frescos on the theme of the Kalevala in the National Museum in Helsinki.
1929 Dictates The Book of Africa [Afrika-kirja], an account of his travels in Kenya. The book is published posthumously by his son.
1931 Akseli Gallen-Kallela dies in Stockholm.