Thursday, August 29, 2013

Woman Artist - Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946)

The Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) painted mainly works depicting herself, other women, children, & the home. Born in Helsinki, she began her training at the Finnish Fine Art Association's Drawing School as a precocious 11-year-old.

1880s Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Picking Bluebells

Periods of study in Paris during the 1880s gave her the chance to see the works of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), & Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884). During the decade, she also traveled to Florence, St Petersburg, Vienna, & Great Britain. At the Paris Exhibition of 1889, the 27-year old artist was awarded a bronze medal for her painting ‘Le Convalescent’, which shows Impressionist influence.

1884 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Naisprofiili

A Finnish grant had first allowed her to travel to Paris in 1880. There she studied with Léon Bonnat & Jean-Léon Gérôme at Madame Trélat de Vigny's painting studio for ladies. In 1881, she went to the private Académie Colarossi, where she was taught by Raphael Colin (1850-1916) & Gustave Courtois (1852-1924), who called her "une de mes meilleures élèves" in a letter of recommendation characterizing her as "très laborieuse" & as one of the most talented students, "certainement une des mieux douées." Until 1890, she returned frequently to Paris; & in 1884, she had her own studio there, which she longed for again as she aged.

1900 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl Reading

Between 1881 & 1884, she journeyed to Pont-Aven & Concarneau in Brittany with fellow female painters Marianne Preindelsberger (1855-1927) & Maria Wiik (1853-1928). Pont-Aven had attracted artists as early as the 1860s. The 3 Finnish women artists were there before Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), who arrived in Brittany in July 1886. It became a trendy venue for plein air painters from the late 1880s through early 1890s. In Brittany, Schjerfbeck met an English artist, to whom she was briefly engaged. But when the relationship ended, she traveled to St. Ives in Cornwall.

1903 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) At Home Mother Sewing

In the 1890s she simplified her style, eliminating background detail and reducing her palette. These stylistic changes are seen in many of the portraits she painted of herself, her mother, and others.Schjerfbeck’s work shows a highly individual development, transforming gradually from melancholy, late 19th-century academic Realism to her own very personal style tending towards abstract Expressionism displaying perfectly balanced colors.

1905 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Seamstress (The Working Woman)

From about 1902 her delicate health began to deteriorate (although she lived into her 80s); and she adopted a solitary life living with her mother at Hyvinkaa, almost forgotten, developing a much more simplified style. During this early period alone, her work was dominated by domestic scenes, featuring women and children engaged in reading or embroidery.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Elämänpuun Tyttö

As details gradually disappeared from her paintings, they gained increasing depth, approaching an abstract technique which was far ahead of her time.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Stilhet

After this interval of semi-obscurity, Schjerfbeck made a second breakthrough in 1917 with her first solo exhibition, mounted by the art dealer Gösta Stenman in Helsinki. Besides early works, it included recent paintings which, like works of earlier artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, were apparently inspired by Japanese masters.

1907 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Old Woman

After her work was exhibited in 1937, she was recognized as one of the pioneers of modernism in Finland.

1908 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Seated Woman in White Dress

1909 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Maria

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946)

1915 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) The Family Heirloom

1916 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Singer in Black

1916 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Circus Girl

1919 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Gipsy Woman

1920 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Dreams

1925 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Blond Woman

1926 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) The Fortune-Teller (Woman in Yellow Dress)

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Rosy-Cheeked Girl

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Seamstress (The Working Woman), half-length portrait

1927 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) ) Girl from Eydtkuhnen II

1928 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Omenatytto

1929 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl From the Islands

1933 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) The Teacher

1933 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Göta

1934 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl from California

1939 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Forty Year Old

1941 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Girl from Loviisa

1942 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Friends

1943 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Nurse I (Kaija Lahtinen)

1944 Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) Portrait of a Girl in Blue and Brown (Inez)

See additional postings on Helen Schjerfbeck here.