Lot 12
  • 12

Helene Schjerfbeck

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Helene Schjerfbeck
  • Lemons in a Bowl
  • signed with initials lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 34.5 by 59.5cm., 13½ by 23½in.


Gösta Stenman (1888-1947; acquired from the artist)
Bertha Stenman (1890-1969; by descent from the above, her husband)
Dr Herbert Bjerlöv (1901-1985), Stockholm 
Åmells Konsthandel, Stockholm
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001


Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1944, no. 104
Helsinki, Artek Gallery, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1946, no. 7
Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjerfbeck: in memoriam, 1946, no. 100
Ottawa; National Gallery of Canada, (and travelling in Canada and the U.S.A.), Helene Schjerfbeck, 1949-53, no. 35 (Ottawa; illustrated in the catalogue) & no. 19
Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1954, no. 114
Helsinki, Art Hall, Helene Schjerfbeck Memorial Exhibition, 1954, no. 174
Venice, XXVIII Biennale, Padiglione finlandese, Helene Schjerfbeck: pitture, 1956, no. 23
Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1958, no. 107
Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjerfbeck Centenary exhibition 1862-1962, 1962, no. 101
Ekenäs/Tammisaari, Ekenäs museihall, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1965, no. 40
Stockholm, Stenmans Konstsalong, Helene Schjferfbeck, 1967, no. 69
Helsinki, Ateneum; Tampere, Art Museum; The Stenman Collection Then and Now, 1967, no. 119
Aalborg, Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Finnish Exhibition: Helene Schjerfbeck, Tyko Sallinen, 1969, no. 69
Stockholm, Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde; Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus; Gothenburg, Konstmuseum; Helene Schjerfbeck: Life and Art, 1987-88, no. 73, illustrated in the catalogue
Helsinki, Ateneum, Helene Schjerfbeck, 1992, no. 484, illustrated in the catalogue
Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection; New York, The National Academy of Design, Helene Schjerfbeck: Finland's Modernist Rediscovered 1992-93, no. 484, illustrated in the catalogue
Helsinki, Ateneum; Stockholm, Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde; Gothenburg, Konstmuseum, Helene Schjerfbeck: 150 years, 2012-13, no. 693, illustrated in the catalogue


H. Ahtela (Einar Reuter), Helene Schjerfbeck, Stockholm, 1953, pl. 99, illustrated (as Citroner I masurskål); pp. 347-48, discussed; p. 371, no. 946, catalogued
Lena Holger, Helene Schjerfbeck: Och jag målar ändå. Brev till Maria Wiik 1907-1928, Helsinki, 2011, p. 125, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Begun in 1934 but not completed until ten years later, Lemons in a Bowl is a masterpiece from Schjerfbeck's late period, and belongs to a series of fruit still lifes she painted from 1915 onwards. While individual pieces of fruit featured in earlier figural works, notably Costume Picture (1909; Ateneum), pure still lifes of single pieces of fruit or bowls of fruit were to become important subjects in their own right. As her life became ever more solitary, Schjerfbeck discovered the expressive potential of inanimate objects in her immediate surroundings. In the present work, as in Pumpkins (1937, Pori Art Museum), the brightly-coloured subject emerges from a flattened, almost abstracted space, as Schjerfbeck explores the vibrant colour harmonies of the exotic lemons held within the altogether more Finnish masur birch bowl.

As her health weakened in her final years, Schjerfbeck received continued pleas from her dealer Gösta Stenman to move to Sweden, which she finally did in February 1944. Schjerfbeck would live out the rest of her life at the Saltsjöbaden spa hotel south-east of Stockholm, where it is likely she completed the present work in 1944. Approaching death, her artistic production acquired a striking new intensity and vigour best demonstrated by the twenty unflinchingly frank and original self-portraits which are among the highlights of her oeuvre. 

Acquired by Stenman, in whose collection the painting remained after Schjerfbeck's death, Lemons in a Bowl was exhibited in the artist's lifetime and went on to feature in many of the landmark exhibitions of her work, beginning with the Artek gallery exhibition just three months after her death. Other highlight exhibitions include the ones organised by Gösta's widow Bertha Stenman (1890-1969) in the U.S.A. and Canada, after war had prevented the exhibition scheduled to travel there in 1939; the 1956 Venice Biennale, at which Schjerfbeck's work represented Finland; and most recently at the major retrospective of her work in Helsinki and Gothenburg in 2012-13.