Topi Artukka: Dances and Restaurant Dinners: Elite Society Life in the Early 19th Century

The lecture will discuss the society life of the European, and in particular Turku, elite in the early nineteenth century and the various significances of social interaction. The social activities of high society will be examined as part of cosmopolitan European customs, as well as a theme of Alexander Lauréus art.

  • 12.4.2023 at 18–19
in Finnish
Seminar hall
Tickets: with a museum ticket
18 €/ 12 €/ Museum Card. Entry is free for those under 18 years. Tickets are available at the info desk on the day of the event. 80 seats. No advance booking.
Alexander Lauréus (1783 – 1823): The Dance, 1814. J. A. Berg Collection, Stockholm University. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Alexander Lauréus painted several works depicting the gentry’s lifestyle in which he engaged with phenomena of high society life, often with humorous methods typical for his time. In his works, people dancing, conversing, drinking and enjoying themselves and the snapshots his art provides are flashes of society life which defined the European elite’s life from cradle to grave.

Society life was not just a method of pacing social interactions but also a way to maintain and develop relationships, make matches, forge economic and political relations and exchange information and gossip. However, very visual sources of the elite’s vital society life have been preserved in Finland and Sweden, which makes Lauréus a particularly interesting artist from the perspective of society life history.

Topi Artukka, PhD, is a researcher of Finnish history at the University of Turku. He is particularly interested in researching Finnish society life and the elite’s cultural history. Artukka defended his doctoral dissertation at Turku in 2021 on the topic “The dancing town. The high society of Turku as a social scene in the 1810’s”.