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Johan Jakob Tikkanen

Born December 7, 1857, Helsinki. Died June 20, 1930, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1880, Licentiate 1884, Imperial Alexander University

Docent in aesthetics and art history 1884–7, Imperial Alexander University
Professor extraordinary 1897–1920 and professor ordinary 1920–26 of art history, Imperial Alexander University (University of Helsinki 1919–)
Acting professor of aesthetics and comparative literature 1901 and 1905 Imperial Alexander University (University of Helsinki 1919–)
Head of the sculpture collection of the University of Helsinki 1898–1926 and head of the Drawing School 1908–26
Secretary of the Finnish Art Society 1892–1920, chairman 1920–22
Vice chairman of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland 1922–24
Vice chairman of the Friends of Ateneum 1919–20
Chairman of the National Council for Visual Arts 1918–23

Awards and special achievements
Official representative of the University of Helsinki at the 800th anniversary celebrations of the University of Bologna, 1888
Member of the Finnish Society of Science and Letters 1911
Finnish Literature Society prize 1914
Member of the Comitato di Patrocinio of the international conference of art history in Rome 1918
Finnish Society of Science and Letters prize 1914

Photo: Taidehistorian kuvakeskus, Helsingin yliopisto

Written by Johanna Vakkari (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Shared Europe

At the close of the 19th century, Europe was in many respects an open cultural environment, one to which Finns also had access. Researchers travelled much, and when reading the correspondence of Johan Jakob Tikkanen one cannot help feeling that all researchers of merit must have been familiar with each other. Of course, at the time art history was still a relatively small field, having only recently come into being, and the number of those actively involved was not large on an international scale.

The way Tikkanen advanced from a student in Helsinki to a renowned professor of art history shows that it was possible for a gifted and socially talented person with a grasp of languages to become part of an international research community, regardless of his or her origins. Despite the limitations set for him by his peripheral homeland, Tikkanen could develop the teaching of art history in the same direction and with the same methods as his colleagues in Europe. This was made possible above all by his excellent connections to German research in the field, which gave him a window into scientific and didactic innovations in art history.

Photo: Johanna Vakkari's archives.

First published in Humanistilehti in 2008

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