LONDON - As three works by renowned Finnish modernist artist Helene Schjerfbeck appear in the London European Paintings sale this December, one in particular elicited a surprising discovery when examined by Sotheby’s specialists.
Girl with Blond Hair, from 1916, is executed in Schjerfbeck's radical style, synthesizing the influence of Cézanne and Toulouse-Lautrec with sweeping, confident brushwork and sublime, pure colour. The sitter is lmpi Tamlander, the artist 's neighbour in Hyvinkää, who together with her elder sister Jenny, ran errands for Schjerfbeck and helped her around the house.
HELENE SCHJERFBECK'S GIRL WITH BLOND HAIR WILL BE SOLD IN LONDON'S 19TH CENTURY EUROPEAN PAINTINGS SALE ON 16 DECEMBER 2015.
The painting was known to Sotheby’s specialists Claude Piening and Richard Lowkes from numerous publications, but when it arrived in Sotheby’s London, and they were able to examine it in detail, it revealed a remarkable discovery. The canvas had originally been used by Schjerfbeck to create a study for one of her most famous works, The Tapestry from 1914–16. Notoriously frugal, she had turned over the canvas and begun afresh on Girl with Blond Hair.
THE BACK OF HELENE SCHJERFBECK'S PAINTING GIRL WITH BLOND HAIR REVEALS A SECOND ATTEMPT AT THE PORTRAIT.
This piece will be joined by one of Schjerfbeck's most striking male portraits, The Fencer, inspired by the psychological intensity, drama and modernism in the work of El Greco. Schjerfbeck was also spurred-on by the knowledge that Cézanne had been a fellow admirer. In addition is a charming portrait, Flaxen-Haired Boy, which is an early work painted when Schjerfbeck was just sixteen. It exemplifies the precocious talent of Schjerfbeck, and it is encouraging to see that her work is gradually receiving greater attention beyond Finland, including a retrospective around Europe in 2007. All three works from this sale will be on view to the public in Helsinki on 17 November at Galerie Donner.