170
170

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Helene Schjerfbeck
Finnish, 1862-1946
TOIPILAS (THE CONVALESCENT)
Estimate
220,000280,000
LOT SOLD. 209,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
170

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Helene Schjerfbeck
Finnish, 1862-1946
TOIPILAS (THE CONVALESCENT)
Estimate
220,000280,000
LOT SOLD. 209,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings, including
German, Austrian, Hungarian & Slavic Paintings
The Orientalist Sale, and
The Scandinavian Sale

|
London

Helene Schjerfbeck
Finnish, 1862-1946
TOIPILAS (THE CONVALESCENT)
signed with initials HS l.r.
watercolour, charcoal and gouache on paper
47 by 59.5cm., 18 1/2 by 23 1/2 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

We are grateful to Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse for her assistance in cataloguing this work.

Provenance

Gösta Stenman (commissioned from the artist)
Dr. H. Rolands, Stockholm, purchased in 1938; thence by descent to the present owner

Exhibited

Eskilstuna Konstmuseum, 1938, no. 29

Literature

H. Ahtela, Helene Schjerfbeck, Stockholm, 1953, p. 366, no. 632, listed

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1927.

The Convalescent is one of Helene Schjerfbeck's most popular and enduring images. As with many of her favourite themes, she returned to this image throughout her life, but each time reducing and abbreviating the image so that it always remained fresh and modern.

The ethereal convalescing girl in the present work bears a special and poignant significance for her author: Schjerfbeck suffered from a debilitating hip ailment from early childhood and, as Riitta Konttinen attests, works such as The Convalescent 'have been seen as symbolic self-portraits' (Riitta Konttinen, 'Helene Schjerfbeck in the 1880s', Helene Schjerfbeck, exh. cat., The Finnish National Gallery Ateneum, 1992, p. 39). For Schjerfbeck, there was no distinction between art and life, her paintings providing her with a tool to explore and understand the emotional and physical traumas that beset her life.

Schjerfbeck's first treatment of this theme (fig. 1) received favourable attention when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1888. Painted while staying in St Ives, it marked the artist's first tangible departure from historical and naturalist genre towards a very personal internalized conception of art.

Schjerfbeck returned to the subject almost forty years later in 1927 with the present work. This reinterpretation stripped the original 1888 oil painting of all but the mere suggestion of a wicker chair and table with its various paraphernalia. The monochrome palette and disciplined lines create sharply angled shapes and a continual rhythm leading the eye around the composition. The viewer's attention is held by the triangular motion between the sitter's young yet heavy eyes, along her arms to her fingers toying with the symbolic budding twig. The sitter adopts the angularised features, the stylized mouth, chin and eyes, which would become Schjerfbeck's trademark.

In the same year, Schjerfbeck executed a reduced oil version of the original Salon painting. She returned to the subject again in 1938 in a series of watercolours and a lithograph (fig. 2).

The defiant spirit of her work, often relentlessly exploring the same motif until reaching its essence, singles her out as one of the greatest women artists of the twentieth century.

Fig. 1, Schjerfbeck, The Convalescent, oil on canvas, 1888 © Ateneum, Helsinki ----- 355D05101

Fig. 2, Schjerfbeck, The Convalescent, lithograph, 1938-9, Private Collection  ------ 356D05101

19th Century European Paintings, including
German, Austrian, Hungarian & Slavic Paintings
The Orientalist Sale, and
The Scandinavian Sale

|
London