Helsinki, Finnish National Gallery Ateneum; Washington, Phillips Collection; New York, National Academy of Design, Helene Schjerfbeck: Finland's Modernist Rediscovered, 1992-3, no. 289, illustrated in colour in the exhibition catalogue
Painted in the winter of 1919-20, the present work depicts a view from Schjerfbeck's window in S. Strandgatan in Tammisaari (Ekenäs), the small coastal town to which she moved on 10 June 1919.
Having achieved recognition and some financial stability from her first solo exhibition in 1917 organised by her art dealer Gösta Stenman, Helene Schjerfbeck continued to exhibit regularly in the following years. However, 1919-20 was a period fraught with emotional and physical pain. At the end of July 1919 she learnt that her friend and mentor Einar Reuter was engaged to a Swedish woman, Tyra Arpi. Fearing losing his friendship, she fell ill and at the end of September and was admitted to hospital in Tammisaari with a heart condition, remaining there until the end of November. Schjerfbeck's painting, executed after her release from hospital, is a haunting reflection of her loneliness.
Schjerfbeck eschewed the nationalistic aims of many of her Finnish contemporaries, notably Akseli Gallen-Kallela (lot 316), whose work was a veiled celebration of Finnish identity and nationhood. Rather, her work centered on the people and places immediately around her, seen through her own, increasingly wistful, consciousness.
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