Monday, December 26, 2011

Autumn Au Revoir

My parents bought their first real home in the early 60's. I was eleven years old. It was a small three bedroom bungalow with one bathroom, no garage, a gravel driveway and an unsodded backyard. Until then, we lived in a series of flats in Toronto. In those days, people didn't live with their parents indefinitely, nor did they purchase a huge home the day they got married. My folks worked, they scrimped and eventually, they bought.

One of the first non essential purchases my parents made was an oil painting. They bought it in a jewellry and gift store at the Oshawa Centre. I remember that they went back several times. Spending $50 was a huge decision. They had admired several pieces by a Finnish artist who lived locally named of *Erkki Jalava. Although they preferred his works that showed splashing waves, the price was prohibitive and they ended up selecting an autumn scene, this autumn scene.

I liked it well enough at first, but then, over the years, twenty to thirty years, I began to tire of the picture. Part of the reason was that it seemed "dated". I thought it was time for my parents to revisit their living facilities and try to move into a newer decade of home decor. I had a friend whose parents had almost the exact same picture, painted from a slightly different perspective. In fact, they had met the artist who informed them that these were his "bread and butter" paintings.

In later years, I was surprised to see yet another version of the same painting, a winter scene at the home of my inlaws. Mr. Jalava seemed to be doing well in the "bread and butter" department. I also learned that there was a sister-in-law, Anna Jalava who painted similar scenes. I don't recall the exact location of the works, but they were painted near an Ontario cottage which the Jalava family owned.

After my dad died, the painting was homeless. We took it in. For awhile, it was hanging in our basement hallway. I hesitated to part with it...nostalgia I suppose. I still didn't particularly care for the colours or style. It didn't match my tastes at all, nor did it fit into my small house.

I researched similar paintings. Most were in the $325 price range. Some were even marked "sold". I decided that this was too small an amount of money to part with a piece of my family's history.

Imagine my surprise one day recently, when my daughter in law, admired the picture. "I really like that painting and the frame matches our furniture really well." she said. I remembered their grand house with its spectacular and tastefully decorated formal living, dining room containing French provincial furnishings. I had an idea.

Erkki Jalava would have a good home. I could visit from time to time. Everyone would be happy.

*Erkki Jalava

 The Jalava family arrived from Helsinki Finland in 1952 and included Mauri and Anna-Liisa Jalava, Mauri’s brother Erkki and his wife, also named Anna-Liisa, their mother Orvokki and Mauri’s brother-in-law, Paavo Hyttinen. Mauri Jalava had worked in Finland as location manager for two studios and as a freelancer for Finnish movie trade magazines. His wife Anna-Liisa was an accomplished artist, as was Mauri’s brother Erkki.
Erkki Jalava is listed in the National Gallery of Canada archives.


  1. i own 2 24 36 e jalava paintings what are they worth can i retire now

  2. Hi Robin,
    I stumbled upon your post. I am 1 of 2 grandchildren of Erkki Jalava. My dad, his son, is also an artist, in BC. I thought I would post his link to see how much artistic talent runs in this family! Thank you for your post, it's nice to see that one of these paintings that are so important to our family has found a good home. My Dad's website is
    Thank you!
    Shaela Jalava

    p.s. The paintings of their cottage and the surrounding scenery were indeed his "bread and butter" but I've seen a wide range of styles that he used- including painting with a pallet knife, which is quite beautiful.

    1. Hello

      I purchased a painting a few years back at a garage sale (sad to say). The frame (similar to the ones I see for sale now) was in poor shape and I had it reframed and am enjoying the painting very much. Does anyone know where the family cottage was? The painting I have also looks like a cottage road with a lake - it looks like a North Frontenac Land of Lakes type of lake. It has lots of light in it.

      Sue M in Scarborough

  3. Thanks for posting this blog i have 3 beautiful oils by the same artist. I think they are important to the local community they will have a safe home with me for at least another 30 or 40 years

  4. I am the grand daughter of Anna Jalava. There is so much artistic talent in this family. I am glad you are all able to enjoy their wonderful paintings!

  5. I have a signed Jalava oil painting that I acquired through my grandmother's estate. It isn't signed with a clear "E" Jalava, but looks more like a lowercase a, e or o. It is a beautiful landscape that reminds me very much of a drive along a cottage road in northern Ontario. It too has a safe home for the next 50 years or so.

  6. Hi! I live in finland and i found a painting very much similar as E.Jalava´s paintings. Only thing is that this one that i found is signed E.K. Jalava 1947. I know that this is a long shot but could this be a work of Erkki Jalava?