Arnold Vihvelin (1892 – 1962)

Vihvelin, Arnold (1892 – 1962). National Holiday. (1940s)

Arnold Vikhvelin, born into a lineage of intellect and artistry, was the pride of the educated forester Hans Vikhvelin’s family. Hans was known for his vast collection of folk songs. A young Arnold was surrounded by knowledge, with his family housing an extensive library and his cousin being a notable portrait painter.

By 13, Arnold’s journey took a professional turn when he began assisting in the Laius pharmacy. Simultaneously, he completed his education at Torma parish school. In 1906, Arnold’s passion for art flourished as he took a draftsman’s position in Tartu, supplementing his skills with drawing courses under the guidance of Rudolf Julius von Mühlen and occasionally visiting Kristjan Raua’s workshop.

Despite lacking a specialized formal education, Arnold’s talent shone brilliantly when he secured the second place in the Karlsruhe competition. By 1910, through Peter Barth’s recommendation, he found himself at the school of the St. Petersburg Society for the Encouragement of Arts. Remarkably, he was directly admitted to the third grade. His studies continued under the tutelage of renowned artists like Nikolay Samokish, alongside peers Jaan Vatra and Pit Aren.

In 1914, Arnold’s artistic journey reached another milestone when he enrolled in the Higher Art School at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Some of his exquisite paintings even graced the pages of the art magazine Ronk. Arnold’s oeuvre primarily consisted of mesmerizing landscapes and intriguing salon portraits. His illustrative prowess was evident as he created numerous illustrations for magazines and even dabbled in satirical cartoons.

Today, Arnold Vikhvelin’s legacy continues. Many of his masterpieces adorn the walls of museums and private collectors’ homes. The Rios Art Gallery also showcases a selection of this celebrated Estonian artist’s works online.