Painted circa 1934.
Unseen in public for decades, Camellias is a rediscovery from Schjerfbeck's late period, belonging to a series of fruit and flower still lifes she painted from 1915 onwards. While in her early work still lifes often appear as embellishments to figural paintings, within her late oeuvre they become important subjects in their own right. 'The serenity of Helene Schjerfbeck's still lifes reflects the isolation and solitude through which the artist found the essential: the concentration of mind, contemplation and simplicity of expression provide immediate contact and impact' (Helmiriitta Sariola, 'Nature morte' in Helene Schjerfbeck, Ateneum, Helsinki, 1992, exh. cat. p. 83).
It was during the 1930s that Schjerfbeck also reached the height of public recognition. In 1934 a large number of her works were presented alongside those of three other Finnish painters at the Liljevalch Konsthall in Stockholm. That same year, the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, to whom Gösta Stenman had already donated a Schjerfbeck work in 1926, made its first purchase of a painting by Schjerfbeck, Tapestry Girl (1915). Stenman, who that year moved his gallery to Stockholm, also donated one painting each to the art museums of Malmö and Ekilstuna. And three years later he organised Schjerfbeck's second large-scale solo exhibition, a show that included almost one hundred exhibits.
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