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1547196

Tove Jansson

(Finland, 1914-2001)
Estimate
600 000 - 800 000 SEK
54 500 - 72 700 EUR
58 000 - 77 300 USD
Hammer price
2 750 000 SEK
Covered by droit de suite

By law, the buyer will pay an artist fee for this work of art. This fee is 5% of the hammer price, or less. For more information about this law:

Sweden: BUS
Finland: Kuvasto

Purchasing info
Image rights

The artworks in this database are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without the permission of the rights holders. The artworks are reproduced in this database with a license from Bildupphovsrätt.

For condition report contact specialist
Amanda Wahrgren
Stockholm
Amanda Wahrgren
Specialist Modern Art, Prints
+46 (0)702 53 14 89
Tove Jansson
(Finland, 1914-2001)

"Vila" (Self-portrait)

Signed Tove and dated -43. Canvas 61 x 74 cm.

Provenance

Gift from Tove Jansson to Atos Wirtanen.
Thence by descent to the present owner.

More information

'Every still-life, every landscape, every canvas is a self-portrait!' - Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson had an impressive career as a writer and artist. Active for over 70 years, she also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, set designer, costume designer and caricaturist - but she always saw herself primarily as a painter. Tove is best known for creating the Moomin characters, but her creativity extended far beyond this universe and she was constantly experimenting and seeking new forms of expression.
In 1933 Tove started studying at the Finnish Art Society's drawing school in Helsinki, commonly known as Ateneum. She would remain there until the spring of 1937, repeatedly dropping out of her studies. After four years, however, she had established herself as an artist. Much was happening in the Finnish art world during this period, with an outward focus on European modernism and international exhibitions. Tove also traveled abroad and was inspired by the culture of Germany, especially Paris and Brittany, and later Italy.
Tove's parents were both artistically inclined, her mother Signe Hammarsten-Jansson was a cartoonist and illustrator, and her father Viktor Jansson a sculptor. From the beginning, Tove appeared to be a rare bird who fearlessly followed her path. Before and during the war, she wrote critical satire in the political magazine Garm and courageously protested against Finland's cooperation with Nazi Germany. Even in her private life, Tove's path was unconventional. The position of women, independence, creativity, and equality were particularly important to her, and she challenged ingrained patterns of thought and prejudice - not as a loud agitator, but as a quiet revolutionary whose entire existence was in line with her beliefs.
The self-portraits are a central part of Tove's oeuvre and show an artist who not only worked with form and expression but also took control of her narrative. The many self-portraits are executed in various techniques, ranging from drawings in pencil and charcoal, small sketches in diaries and letters, and large portraits in oil. Tove never wrote an autobiography. The closest equivalent is the novel "The Sculptor's Daughter" (1969), which contains biographical content. Instead, self-portraits constitute her own visual narrative, a way of exploring and staging an artistic identity. How she portrayed herself was not a random process; it was an artistic judgment. The self-portraits reveal an artist who is both self-ironic and serious, and they reflect the complexity of her personality. Through her self-portraits, Tove explored different identities, told personal stories, and took her place in the art world.
The auction's elegant self-portrait from 1943 has an intriguing history. The portrait was given as a gift, presumably a love gift, to Atos Wirtanen. Wirtanen was a politician, a member of the Finnish Parliament 1936-1954, and chairman of the Socialist Unity Party 1948-1955, but he was also a writer. The relationship between Tove Jansson and Atos Wirtanen is written about in books and portrayed in film ("Tove", directed by Zaida Bergroth 2020).
Moomin Characters writes about the relationship with Wirtanen "Snusmumriken is inspired by Tove Jansson herself, her brother Lars, but most of all her boyfriend from the early 1940s, Atos Wirtanen. Snusmumriken joined the Moomin stories when the couple were dating and during their years together Tove wrote and illustrated the first five Moomin books. Because Tove's Moomin books inspired Atos, he came up with the idea to create the cartoon series as well. In 1947, the first series "Mumintrollet och jordens undergång" was published in the magazine Ny Tid, where Atos acted as editor. Snusmumriken is very similar to Atos in appearance - a hat and pipe were common to both of them. Even the backpack describes how they both constantly came and went. Atos' view of free life where matter is not necessary is one of Snusmumriken's most recognizable traits. In many ways, the relationship between Moomin (Tove's alter ego) and Snusmumriken is similar to the relationship between Tove and Atos. Moomin looks up to Snusmumriken who is quite distant and very often Moomin feels a deep sense of loss when Snusmumriken goes on an adventure or chooses to be alone with his thoughts. Moomin tries to understand Snusmumriken's desire for freedom, even if it is not easy to wait."(https://www.moomin.com/sv/blogg/inspirationen-bakom-snusmumriken/#7d5684c5).