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Helene Schjerfbeck

(Finland, 1862-1946)
Helene Schjerfbeck
(Finland, 1862-1946)

Helene Schjerfbeck, "Church Window".

Signed HS. Executed in 1919. Oil on canvas 69 x 50.5 cm

Wear due to age and use. Small hole on right branch.


Gösta Stenman. Thence by descent in the same family.


"The Finnish Art Exhibition at Charlottenborg", Copenhagen 1919, no.106.
"Helene Schjerfbeck Memorial Exhibition", Kunsthalle Helsinki, 1954, no.91.
"Helene Schjerfbeck", Helsinki Art House 11.7.-24.8.1980, no.35.
"Private 84", Kunsthalle Helsinki 1984, no.113.
"Helene Schjerfbeck", Ateneum, Helsinki 2.2.-5.4.1992, no.293.
"Helene Schjerfbeck", The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., 1992; The National Academy of Design, New York 1992—1993, no. 293.
"Helene Schjerfbeck: Women, Male Portraits, Self-Portraits, Landscapes, Still Lifes", North Jutland Art Museum, Aalborg, Denmark 1997.
"Helene Schjerfbeck: Women, Men, Self-Portraits, Landscapes, Still Lifes", Turku Art Museum 1997—1998, no.54
"Helene Schjerfbeck 1862—1946", Hamburger Kunsthalle 2007; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague 2007; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 2007—2008, no.69.
"Helene Schjerfbeck 150 Years", Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki 1.6.-14.10.2012; Prince Eugen's Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, 2013; Gothenburg Art Museum, Gothenburg, 2013, no.413.


H.Ahtela, "Helena Schjerfbeck", Helsinki, 1953, no.522, illustrated (full page) on p.176. Image no.76.
"Helene Schjerfbeck", ed. Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, Ateneum, 1992, no 293, illustrated (full page) on p.197.
Riitta Konttinen, "Oma tie-Helene Schjerfbeckin elämä", Otava 2004, illustrated on p.310.
"Helene Schjerfbeck", Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hirmer Verlag, 2007, illustrated on p.116.
Lena Holger, "Helene Schjerfbeck - Och jag målar ändå, Brev till Maria Wiik 1907-1928, SLS i Finland 2011. Illustrated on p.146.
"Helene Schjerfbeck-150 years", ed. Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, Ateneum art museum, 2012, no 413, illustrated on p.228.

More information

Helene Schjerfbeck's painting "Church Window" from 1919 stands as one of the artist's most captivating urban landscapes. The subject is the side window of the Ekenäs church and the branching tree trunk nearby. Similar to Schjerfbeck's portraits, this is not a mere depiction but an expression of a soulful state. From a distance, the painting almost presents an abstract impression, akin to the Japanese notion of images that appear as if viewed through a keyhole. One is drawn to the undulating forms and intertwining colors, accentuated by the clear blue sky at the upper right corner.

Schjerfbeck visited her ancestors' town of Ekenäs during the years 1918, 1919, and 1920, settling there permanently in 1925. The summers of 1918 and 1919 brought her many joyful moments but also profound disappointments.

In its composition, "Church Window" is in many ways an avant-garde painting. Helene Schjerfbeck was ahead of her time, as evidenced by her painting of the door to Trémalos Chapel in Pont-Aven in 1894. Once again, in "The Church Window," she demonstrates her ability to paint space two-dimensionally while emphasizing that the subject depicts a place. This was considered avant-garde at the time, as Western artists had been indoctrinated since the Renaissance about the superiority of perspective's illusion. The subject is intricately linked to the artist's emotional state and reflects her longing for closeness, despite her need to protect her psyche due to her hypersensitivity.

"Church Window" transcends mere urban scenery; it expresses a mental landscape that envelops the viewer in a gentle embrace.

Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse

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