A survey of Helene Schjerfbeck’s career to open at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2019

The survey is organised by the Royal Academy of Arts in London in collaboration with the Ateneum Art Museum, part of the Finnish National Gallery. It is curated by Jeremy Lewison, Independent Curator and formerly Director of Collections at Tate; Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Chief Curator at the Ateneum Art Museum and Royal Academy of Arts curator Sarah Lea. The exhibition will run from 20 July to 27 October 2019.

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) is one of Finland’s most famous artists. She had a long and productive career whose output moved from the approaches of the Paris Salon painters to one that manifested the impact of modernism. This first ever UK survey of Schjerfbeck’s works will articulate the development of her work from relatively conventional beginnings to a radically abstracted but expressive figuration with an emphasis on the materiality of paint and canvas.

The survey of approximately 60 works of art from Schjerfbeck’s career will be shown in the new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries at the Royal Academy in London. The works include early naturalistic paintings, still lifes and landscapes, and shows her art turning increasingly modernist especially in her self-portraits. Key works such as the Convalescent (1888), painted during her short stay at St Ives, will be shown at the Royal Academy.

“The Royal Academy of Arts is happy to introduce a new artist to Britain, one that is well known and revered in her own country. We feel that she deserves to be known in the UK and beyond,” says Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy.

“We are delighted to notice that there is a continuous rise in the interest towards Helene Schjerfbeck’s works. The Royal Academy of Arts is a perfect partner to collaborate with in introducing Schjerfbeck to a wider audience,” says Chief Curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff from the Ateneum Art Museum.

This fall, Ateneum Art Museum will display 14 of Helene Schjerbeck’s works as part of the Urban Encounters – Finnish Art from the 20th Century exhibition, which will run from 19 October 2018 to 20 January 2019. The diverse exhibition explores migration and urbanisation in Finland in the early decades of the 20th century – people’s lives and daily existence. Other artists featured at the exhibition include Reino Harsti, Aarre Heinonen, Helmi Kuusi, Åke Mattas and Elga Sesemann.

Helene Schjerfbeck: The Convalescent (1888). Finnish National Gallery/Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery/Yehia Eweis.