Albert Edelfelt, "View from the Artist's Studio in Paris".
Sign. A.Edelfelt Paris 1895. Oil on canvas 63x79 cm.
Wear due to age and use.
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Medicine Doctor Carl Wilhelm Rosenlew from Ellan von Born through Bäcksbacka Art Salon; Industrialist Wilhelm Wahlforss.
Exhibition by The Artists' Association of Finland, Ateneum Art Museum, autumn 1895, no 33.
Russian Art Academy exhibition, S:t Petersburg, 1896, no 78.
Art and industrial exhibition, Stockholm, 1897, no 1470.
"Albert Edelfelt 1854-1905 Jubilee Exhibition", Ateneum art museum, 1.-31.10.1954.
"Albert Edelfelt", Art Center Retretti, Punkaharju, 18.6.-28.8.1983, no 136.
"Private 88", Kunsthalle Helsinki, 1988.
"Omat klassikot", Art Center Pyrri, Savonlinna, 11.6.-7.8.1988.
"Keräilijä-Collector", Art Center Pyrri, Savonlinna, 27.6.-31.7.1991.
"Albert Edelfelt in Paris", Turku Art museum, 6.5.-16.9.2001.
"Albert Edelfelt in Paris", Tikanoja Art Museum, Vasa, 28.9.-25.11.2001 no 90.
"Albert Edelfelt 150 years", Ateneum Art Museum, 3.9.2004-30.1.2005.
"Albert Edelfelt", Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, 220.127.116.11.2005.
Newspaper 'Uusi Suometar', 10.11.1895.
Newspaper 'Päivälehti', 21.11.1895.
Bertel Hintze, "Albert Edelfelt", WSOY, 1953, no 741. Illustrated full page on p.313.
"Albert Edelfelt in Paris", Marina Catani, Elina Anttila, Turku Art Museum Publications 2/2001. Illustrated full page on p.211.
"Albert Edelfelt Jubilee Book", ed. Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, Ateneum Publications no 38, 2004. Illustrated on p.226.
As a young man Albert Edelfelt attracted attention through his interest in drawing and his parents Carl Albert and Alexandra Edelfelt encouraged him in every way. In addition to attending the Swedish normal lyceum in Helsingfors, in his early teens, he began to take lessons at Finska konstförenings drawing school under the direction of C.E. Sjöstrand. In 1870 he took private painting lessons with the German portrait painter Bernard Reinhold who was temporarily residing in Finland.
The following year Albert Edelfelt became a university student, he enrolled in Latin, Greek, and History classes. Simultaneously he finished his studies at the drawing school and instead became a student of Adolf von Becker, in the university’s drawing studio. However, drawing took up more and more of his time, and he withdrew from university after the first year. He was accepted to von Becker’s private academy and participated in Finska konstföreningen in 1872.
The rumor of Edelfelt’s talent spread quickly and several important artists and the Finnish art world’s leading men soon put their hope in him. At first, the young man was recommended to study at the art academy in Antwerpen, where he traveled in October of 1873, with support from a government scholarship.
At this time, Romantic history painting had been forced to give way to realistic depictions of individual details. During his five-months studying in Antwerpen, Edelfelt was moved up to the top class.
However, Edelfelt longed for Paris and traveled there in May of 1874 to start studying with the history painter Jean-Leon Gérôme at the art academy, École des Beaux-Arts. He formed close friendships with young artists, the most important of whom was Jules Bastien-Lepage, a champion of realistic Plein-air painting. Generally, the contacts Edelfelt made in Paris were of fundamental importance in view of his future career.
The history painting “Queen Blanka”, created before the Paris Salon 1877, can be described as Edelfelt’s breakthrough. The work was a great success at the World Exhibition the following year and it quickly became one of the most loved works of art in the Nordics.
In the same year, Edelfelt completed another painting with a historical motif in the Paris studio, the considerably more dramatic "Duke Karl disgraces the corpse of Klas Fleming". This painting, too, was well received, but Edelfelt realized that a final breakthrough at the Paris Salon required him to depart from history painting, which was already considered passé. In this spirit, the work “Conveying the Child's Coffin (A Child's Funeral)” was created, where Edelfelt describes how different people express their grief. The painting expresses psychological realism but is carried out according to plain-air painting’s principles. At the Salon in Paris 1880, the painting is awarded a medal in the third class, the first one of its kind to be awarded to a Finn. The artist had been correct in his assumption and the path to international fame was now open to him.
In the spring of 1881, he traveled to Spain, where the sunlight and studies of Velázquez's art taught him to widen his brushstrokes. Inspired by this, he painted outdoors at Haiko "Service in the Archipelago" in the summer of 1881, which was awarded a medal of the second class at the Paris Salon, and the painting was purchased for the French state's art collections.
Success followed upon success and the doors to the international art market were now open, as were the doors to the imperial court in Russia, where Edelfelt was appointed Free Honorary Member of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. His portrait of Louis Pasteur, a stylistic model for so-called environmental portraits, where the model is portrayed in his professional environment, led to a steady stream of portrait orders for a long time to come. At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889, "Portrait of Louis Pasteur" was awarded the highest award, the grand prix d'honneur.
In the years 1886–1887, the painting "In the Luxembourg garden" with motifs from Paris was completed. Edelfelt had come into contact with the leading Impressionists at exhibitions organized at Galerie Georges Petit and was influenced by them, at first subconsciously and perhaps even somewhat reluctantly. Without sacrificing detail, many of his paintings show impressionistic traits in the way they capture the moment and the light.
The manipulation of light henceforth became something of a focal point for Edelfelt and he persistently experimented with raising the coloristic scale and painting with broader brush strokes to achieve the desired effect. His first major monumental composition "The Adoration of the Shepherds" was a trial by fire, which he carried out in 1893-94 for the Vaasa city church. The painting, which is over 5 meters tall, was intended to be placed between two large windows in the chancel, where it would be exposed to a blinding backlight, placing it in deep shadow. The challenge of this work left deep traces in Edelfelt's painterly aspirations.
The result of this development is particularly striking in two relatively large works that were created in Paris, in the spring of 1895. The first, "Carneval de Paris", which depicts a red-haired woman at a restaurant window, and "View from the artist's studio in Paris", which is now for sale at the Helsinki Winter Sale. Both of these works were carried out shortly after Edelfelt, together with Anders Zorn, visited the opera singer Jean-Baptist Faure, who owned one of France's preeminent private collections of modern paintings. Edelfelt was totally enthralled by the numerous fine works by Eduard Manet that were part of the collection and it is clear that both the restaurant scene and the view from the studio bear traits of Manet's art.
In "View from the artist's studio in Paris" the impressionistic traits are prominent, albeit more controlled than in "Carneval de Paris". This freshly designed cityscape, with its apparent airiness and lush, light-filled color harmonies, makes the work one of the most central representatives of Edelfelt's coloristic painting. It captured the moment of city life, the depth emphasized by the narrowing street and the somewhat dramatic cloud formations all contribute to the painting's unique expressiveness.
However, at this time Edelfelt had to endure negative or unsympathetic criticism in his home country for this painting, as well as for most similar works. When the painting, which partly foreshadows Magnus Enckell's later painting, was exhibited at the Finnish Artists' Exhibition in the fall of 1895, it was considered to "look almost like a chromolithography print". Only about twenty years later was the outside world ready for more modern work from Edelfelt's production and the painting found its buyer in the physician and entrepreneur Carl Wilhelm Rosenlew through Edelfelt's widow Ellan von Born and Bäcksbacka's Art Salon.
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