The Gerda and Salomo Wuorio Foundation

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Salomo Backberg was born on the 28 August, 1857 in Hausjärvi in South Häme. His father, Salomon Backberg senior, was a mason, a businessman and a farmer, who had also been born in Hausjärvi in 1792. When Salomo junior was born, his father was 65 and in his second marriage. In March 1868, Salomon Backberg senior died of typhoid fever, which had become an epidemic during the famine years. In little over a year, the 12-year old Salomo left home to earn his own living. He headed for Helsinki.

The young man started his painter's career as an apprentice in master painter Kyrklund's workshop. Salomo Wuorio was 20 years old and still working for Kyrklund when he became journeyman on July 1, 1878. He had translated his family name into Finnish, from Backberg to Wuorio, in 1876. In 1881, the journeyman painter departed for Stockholm for further studies, and in July he got a job at the studio of Carl Grabow, a decorative painter who specialized in painting theatre sets. During 188789 Salomo Wuorio worked as a foreperson at the workshop of master painter Samuel Koskinen in Turku. While working for Koskinen, Wuorio contributed to the decorative work of at least the Malmgård Manor, the Tampere Town Hall and the National Archives.

Salomo Wuorio opened his own painting company in Helsinki in January 1890, while the painting work at the National Archives was still ongoing. During the 1890's, the S. Wuorio Painting Company became the leading painting business in Helsinki and in the whole of Finland. As the amount of work increased, Salomo Wuorio concentrated on the management and finances of the business. Already at the beginning of the 1890's, the painting business had a fair amount of worksites and consequently a considerable number of employees. At that time already, Salomo Wuorio was up to his eyes in work simply with dealing with contracts, painting plans, material purchases and business-related management duties. Despite this, it was only in 1897 that the first office clerk, Erik Hemming, was hired for the company.

Salomo Wuorio was married on May 19, 1896 with the 21-year old Gerda Maria Långhjelm. Gerda Långhjelm was the daughter of Georg Ferdinand Långhjelm, assessor at the Vaasa Court of Appeal, and Henrika Elisabeth Tegnér from Stockholm. The couple had three children, a daughter and two boys. Greta, born in 1897, died at the age of only one. The older son, Georg Salomo, born in February 25, 1898, was raised to continue his father's work. Georg died of the influenza epidemic known as Spanish influenza in October 1918. The younger of the sons, Karl Gunnar Valdemar, born on November 15, 1900, graduated as an architect from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1925.

Positions of trust and donations
Salomo Wuorio was an important person in the late 19 th and early 20 th century Helsinki. He had close relations with many artists and architects and he made several donations to Finnish artistic life. The S. Wuorio Painting Company collaborated a lot with many of the prominent artists and designers of the time.

Salomo Wuorio held several positions of trust. In 1898, he participated in the founding of the Helsinki Master Painters' Club. In addition to the activities at the Master Painters' Club, he actively took part in the activities of the Helsinki Assessment Board and the Helsinki Wallpaper and Carpet Traders' Association. Already in 1893 he was nominated in the board of the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design, where he worked for 40 years. He was also a member of the Kunsthalle Association. Salomo Wuorio was decorated with the badge of honour of Knight, I Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland in 1928, and on his 75 th birthday on August 28, 1932, he received the honorary title of industrial counsellor. By 1932, Salomo Wuorio had been nominated an honorary member of the Finnish Painter Employers' Association and its Helsinki division, the Master Builders' Association of Finland, the Finnish Decorative Painters' Organisation Ornamo, the Artists' Association of Finland and the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design.

Salomo Wuorio was a significant supporter of art and culture, who did not wish to assert himself. His donations often enclosed a wish that the name of the donator should not be mentioned. He made his first known donation in 1917 to the Finnish Association of Architects, which received 30,000 Finnish marks. The association that had been founded for the building of the Kunsthalle received 300,000 marks from Salomo Wuorio in 1927. The condition for the donation was that the Finnish Association of Architects and the Finnish Decorative Painters' Organisation would get an own club room in the building. Towards the end of the 1930's, the rate of donations started to accelerate. The training of painters was close to Salomo Wuorio's heart and he worked actively for the newly founded Helsinki School of Special Painting. In 1937, Wuorio donated 370,000 marks to the Helsinki division of the Finnish Painter Employers' Association, of which 100,000 marks was to be used to found a separate fund for the Helsinki School of Special Painting.

In 1936, Salomo Wuorio handed over the managerial duties of his business to his only heir, architect Gunnar Wuorio. Salomo Wuorio died at the age of 80 on February 28, 1938.