Go Back

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

Teaching Methods

In the 19th century, not only photographs and architectural drawings but also a significant collection of plaster cast copies of ancient and Renaissance art were collected for the purposes of teaching art history. Carl Gustaf Estlander had already begun the systematic collection of (mainly classical) sculptures in 1869. When the collection was expanded with copies of Renaissance sculptures in the 1880s, the responsibility for the acquisitions rested with Johan Jakob Tikkanen.

The art history collection of sculptures at the University of Helsinki consists of 73 casts from Antiquity, 52 from the Renaissance, three from early Christendom and two from Asia. The collection is well preserved, and most of it is displayed at the Main Building of the University of Helsinki, with some pieces on display at Arppeanum.

Another new teaching method at the end of the 19th century was the diapositive, and a significant number of glass slides were acquired for the purposes of art history, for instance from photography shops in Germany. A magic lantern made it possible to show the same picture to an entire lecture hall and for the teacher to combine speech with visual materials much more efficiently than was previously the case. Later on the method was improved by using two projectors, which facilitated comparisons between two works of art. From its inception, the method was used particularly in iconographic and formal analytic studies.

A drawing of the Imperial Alexander University sculpture collection by J. J. Tikkanen from his time as a student. Photo: Johanna Vakkari's archives.

First published in Humanistilehti in 2008

Go Back