Helene Schjerfbeck in the 1890s.
The Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck (1862—1946) painted mainly works depicting women, children and the home. In the 1890s she simplified her style, eliminating background detail and reducing her palette. These stylistic changes are seen in many of the portraits she painted of herself, her mother, and others.
Self portrait, 1912.
“[Helene Schjerbeck]…was supposedly a Realist, a Romanticist, an Impressionist, a Naturalist, a Symbolist, an Expressionist and a wildly ahead-of-her-time Abstractist. Truthfully, there were elements of all of these in her work as the decades progressed and one would not be incorrect using any of these terms. But in the end she stripped herself of all save that which symbolized 83-years' worth of learning to see.” From About.com, Helene Schjerbeck.
School Girl in Black.
“When the subject of a portrait is the artist's own mother, the relationship between the two is particularly interesting. Helene and Olga Schjerfbeck were very close…but their relationship was never open or without conflict. It was customary at the time for an unmarried daughter to take care of her ageing parents, which in practice meant living in the same household. Olga Schjerfbeck was a strong-willed woman, whose needs and whims her daughter tried to satisfy as best she could. The mother in turn viewed her adult daughter still as a little girl who needed care and protection, and she never fully learned to understand her daughter's profession.” From Museums in Motion, notes on exhibition titled “The Golden Age of Finnish Art.”
At Home, Helene Schjerbeck’s portrait of her 64-year-old mother sewing.
For more information about Helene Schjerbeck, click here.