The sculptor, Professor Yrjö Liipola (1881-1971) was born in Koski in the province of Turku. His parents were the landed estate holder Henrik Liipola and his wife Vilhelmiina nee Tilkanen. Yrjö Liipola studied drawing and sculpture in the Drawing School of Turku Art Association during the years 1899-1901. He made a study trip to Florence and Rome. After returning home he worked in his atelier in Koski. In February 1904 Liipola moved to Hungary, from where he did not return to his native country until 30 years later with his Hungarian spouse Mara nee de Foerster.
Yrjö Liipola acted as Consul for Finland in Hungary and after moving back to his homeland as Consul for Hungary in Finland. Liipola, who perfectly mastered the Hungarian language, translated several works into Finnish. He also started his own literary production. Aurinkoista Unkaria (Sunny Hungary) was published in 1934 and the book of memoirs Vaellusvuosiltani (From My Wandering Years) in 1956.
In Hungary Liipola soon made a successful career as an appreciated portrait sculptor and many of his models belonged to the contemporary Austrian-Hungarian nobility. All in all he sculptured some 100 portraits in Hungary.
Liipola’s sculpture Vaaniskelija (Sneaker) aroused great attention at the exhibition in Budapest and made the 25-year-old artist internationally well known. When living in Hungary Yrjö Liipola successfully participated in the sculpture competitions in Finland. He was allowed to realise many of his winning propositions and so he made such well-known sculptures as Rise of Carelia (Joensuu), Son of the Forest (Viipuri) and several war memorials.
The Liipolas moved to Finland in 1934 and they had an atelier home built in Kauniainen. There Yrjö Liipola sculptured e.g. Finland’s Statue of Liberty (Vaasa), the Monument of the Kuru Shipwreck (Tampere), the Statue of Work (Lahti), Count Per Brahe’s Statue (Kajaani), President J.K. Paasikivi’s Portrait, the Sculpture Diana (Helsinki), the Grape Girl (Helsinki) and several memorials of the fallen in the Second World War. One of them can be seen in the graveyard of Koski.
In 1952 Yrjö Liipola was granted the title of Professor.
For reasons of health the Liipolas moved to Italy in 1955. Before their departure the sculptor donated his home place 153 sculptures, which were temporarily placed in an old seed storehouse. In 1968 the Foundation of the Yrjö Liipola Art Museum was started and it had an art museum designed by the architect Eero Ponkala and the building was completed in 1970. The art collection comprises some 200 sculptures, the oldest of which derive from the early 1900’s, and some thirty drawings. Also some pieces of art and furniture which belonged to the professor’s family are displayed.
The Liipolas spent their last ten years in Koski. Professor Liipola lived long enough to see the new museum building and he was pleased both with the building itself and the way in which the artist Martti Vainio had put his works on display.
Yrjö and Mara Liipola died in 1971 and they were buried in the grave of the Ali-Liipola family in the cemetery of Koski T.l.
Translation: Matti Välimäki,M.A.