Helene Schjerfbeck

Fan account of Helene Schjerfbeck. She is one of Finland's most-cherished modernist painters. She is most widely known for her realist works and self-portraits, and less well known for her landscapes and still lifes. 

Last update
2021-07-30 02:49:35

    Girl on the Sand, Helene Schjerfbeck, Finnish National Gallery

    A child should be painted the way children themselves paint. Spontaneously. (Letter to Einar Reuter April 8, 1920) (T) Girl on the Sand is a painting full of light. The girl's crouched-over position is delicately depicted. Schjerfbeck mostly painted in oil, but tried to avoid producing a glossy surface. In Girl on the Sand she used tempera, which leaves a matte surface. It was often difficult to get enough models. By painting children Schjerfbeck sought to produce something that looked natural. Even children don't have much time because of school, apart from a few wild ones, who don't get any education, and actually they're usually more civilized than school-goers, and more natural, so I prefer them. (Letter to Maria Wiik Oct 25, 1916) (S)


    Wounded Warrior in the Snow, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1880, Finnish National Gallery

    In the 19th century history painting was still considered the most prestigious of all genres. In 1879 and 1880 Schjerfbeck produced numerous sketches on historical subjects, hoping that this serious and demanding genre would win her recognition while she was still young. The imaginary event depicted in Wounded Warrior in the Snow (1880) is from the Finnish war of 1808–1809. However, it is not a stirring depiction of a battle scene, for Schjerfbeck concentrates on a single dying soldier, also calling the painting by that name. Our eyes focus on the soldier’s body and the birch tree that forms its mirror image. The painting was purchased for the Finnish Art Society collection and in 1880 Schjerfbeck was awarded a senate travel grant, allowing her to travel to Paris that autumn to study art further.


    Girl from California I, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1919, Finnish National Gallery

    Baarman, Ulla (1895-1978), taiteilijan lempimalleja. "Edellisenä vuonna [=1918] Tammisaaressa Schjerfbeck oli jo saanut isoäitinsä Sofia Willstedtin sisaren, raatimiehen rouvan, Ulrika Baarmanin pojantyttären, Ruth Ulrika "Ulla" Baarmanin mallikseen. Tytön isä Uno Mortimer Alexander Baarman (1854-1916) oli ollut merikapteeni, joka asui muutamia vuosia Kaliforniassa, San Franciscossa, missä Ulla syntyi. Äiti oli Rosa Elisabeth o.s. Ekman (1859-1929), joka toimi San Franciscosta paluun jälkeen kauppiaana Tammisaaressa. Helene Schjerfbeckin tunnetuimmalle Ullasta tehdylle maalaukselle annettiin nimi Kalifornialainen, joka ei ole siis tuulesta temmattu, vaan todellisuuspohjainen, vaikka luonnollisesti maalauksen etelämaista luonnetta myös näin korostettiin. Ulla toimi tuolloin postivirkailijana Tammisaaressa ja oli mieluusti mallina vapaa-aikoinaan." (Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse 2009)