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Albert Edelfelt

(Finland, 1854-1905)
120 000 - 140 000 EUR
1 360 000 - 1 590 000 SEK
127 000 - 148 000 USD
Hammer price
160 000 EUR
Purchasing info
Albert Edelfelt
(Finland, 1854-1905)


Sign. Pastel 60x48 cm.


Edelfelt in Paris, Turku Art Museum and Tikanojas Art Museum 2001, no. 43.


B. Hintze nr 270. M. Catani, Edelfelt Pariisissa, Turun taidemuseo and Tikanoja Art Museum 2001, page 172, illustrated on page 175.

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A Young Woman with a Fan.

The tradition of Finnish pastel painting was introduced by Albert Edelfelt in 1882. According to Bertel Hintze Edelfelt was inspired by the 18th century masters that were on display at the Louvre. Hintze mentions Maurice Quentin de La Tours (1704-1788) and Jean-Baptiste Perronneaus (1715-1783) as role-models for Edelfelt, as well as Gustaf Lundberg (1695-1786) and Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789).
An interest for historic motives of the 18th century, like women in contemporary clothing, grew during the epoch of historicism. Especially neo-rococo that had become a furnishing trend, created a need for appropriate wall-hangings among art collectors that had a liking for 18th century style. Newly-made pastels hung side-by-side with old paintings in the drawing rooms. The frames were designed and gilt accordingly to fit the interiors. Edelfelt made Gustavian motifs alongside neo-rococo motifs, which seems rather close to home considering his family-background. His father was an immigrant from a Swedish noble family, and his mother spent her summers at Haikko estate surrounded by Gustavian furniture saved (= bought at a forced auction) from her family-estate Kiiala and the nostalgic memories they portrayed. In addition to rococo and Gustavian style paintings Edelfelt also made paintings in the Directoire style.

The colouring of the pastel A Young Woman with a Fan (1884) is executed in unobtrusive Gustavian blu-gray and rosy shades against a black background. The young lady is dressed in a contemporary rococo dress with a lace choker and lace bonnet on the powdered hairdo. These types of bonnets are typical for pictures of 18th century chambermaids. In Paris these dresses could be rented or borrowed from friends or from theatre ensembles.
Gunnar Berndtson, Edelfelt's studio-neighbour and colleague, dressed his models in such dresses while painting 18th century milieus.

In the late 19th century the use of the fan was still quite common, especially at concerts and the opera. The non-verbal message was naturally known as well, like in the popular operetta Carmen by Georges Bizet; a closed fan means "No", the message was to be emphasised by the gaze.
Edelfelts accurate pencil drawing and sense for colour-harmonies are the foundations of his pastel-technique. Hintze did't save his praise when he described this. "Edelfelt as a figure-painter did certainly think in terms of lines, but he surely experienced his impressions through light and colour, and therefore he found the pastel-chalk to be the most immediate means of expression, it was the line and the colour simultaneously and it corresponded with the drawers sense of form and the painters intimate sense of colour."


Albert Edelfelt is considered one of Finland's greatest artists of the 19th century. After studying in Antwerp and Paris, he settled in France, where he received several exhibition medals and was honored with the Legion of Honour, notably for the famous portrait of Pasteur. He was also summoned by Alexander III to St. Petersburg to portray the Tsar's children. Edelfelt often returned to themes from Finnish history, such as his illustrations for 'The Tales of Ensign Stål.'

Edelfelt's works display an artistic breadth that ranges from everyday life in the Finnish archipelago to prestigious society portraits and historical paintings. In his depictions of everyday life, he managed to merge traditional academic painting with the new techniques of plein air painting, which achieved great success in France. The painting 'The Funeral of a Child' was awarded a third-class medal at the annual Salon in Paris in 1880, marking the most significant international success for Finnish painting at the time.

Albert Edelfelt is primarily represented in Ateneum in Helsinki, but also in the National Museum in Stockholm, as well as museums in Copenhagen, Luxembourg, and Paris.

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