Magnificent work by Tove Jansson at Helsinki Spring Sale

Tove Jansson. For sale at Helsinki Spring Sale, 29 May - 14 June. Estimate: 8 000 - 12 000 €.

Tove worked actively even during the war and she is said to have matured into a true artist during that time. In 1942 she had moved from Lallukka to live on her own. In 1944 she had a telephone installed, and by telephone she received a message that an atelier space which she had previously been interested in would now be available. Her friend Olga Nordström had complained how drifty the space was and she was now offering it to Tove. Previously used by Hjalmar Hagelstam, who fell in the early days of the Continuation War, the atelier would be perfect for Tove. The space enabled both working and living. It suited Tove so well that less than ten years later she would take out a bank loan to buy it.

The art world wanted to maintain art exhibitions despite the war, and critics weren’t hibernating either. In his book “Bildkonstnären Tove Jansson” (Tove Jansson, a Visual Artist), Erik Kruskopf cites Signe Tandefelt, who described Tove as “technically very skilful and quick, which brings about great benefits but also dangers”. What these dangers were, Tandefelt didn’t specify. Sigrid Schauman once said Jansson’s pieces had too much to say: too many details and strains of thought.

In his book, Kruskopf aptly states that the lack of simplification comes from the very essence of Tove’s creativity. The artist wanted to tell stories and, on the other hand, to channel colour-saturated beauty. To produce experiences. As in this still-life now being auctioned, details placed in beautiful harmony entice the viewer for a long period to examine them. Kruskopf continues: “The colour experiences were born out of abundant contrast colours, which in the gray Northern reality of life had to be conjured forth with multi-coloured fabrics, exquisite bright-coloured boxes or bowls full of fruits...”

This work that will be for sale at Helsinki Spring Sale was painted in 1944 and was bought from the artist herself in 1946. The beautifully coloured fan, seashell and other intriguing small objects portrayed in the painting represent the imagery of Tove Jansson’s still-lifes at their best.

For more information, please contact our art specialist Laura Pohjola:, +358 (0)50 428 2146.

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Image: Reino Loppinen, 1956, Tove Jansson in her studio.