This study is on Johan Jakob Tikkanen (1857-1930), the first professor of art history in Finland, and his significance and methods in the context of late 19th and early 20th-century European art history. Tikkanen was one of the pioneering scholars in the field of medieval art research, and one of the scholars who defined art history as an independent academic discipline. Tikkanen was profoundly interested in artistic creativity. In his own words, he wanted to study das künstlerische Können, artistic ability, instead of das künstlerische Wollen or artistic will. This starting point led him to the history of style and iconographical research.