914. Helene Schjerfbeck (Finland 1862‑1946). ”Sjundby gård”. Signed with monogram and dated HS 1917. Watercolour, 37 x 40 cm.

SEK 300.000 – 400.000       28.000 – 38.000 

The collection of Gösta Stenman (1888-1947).
Envoyé Constans Lundquist (1891‑1950).
Thence by descent within the family.

Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, Skärhamn, ”Helene Schjerfbeck,  Min mor – Hemma, Kuvia kodistani”, 2000.
Ateneum, Helsinki, ”Helene Schjerfbeck, Min mor – Hemma, Kuvia kodistani”, 2000‑2001.

H. Ahtela, Helena Schjerfbeck, 1953, compare with cat. no. 813 “Den stora herrgården (Sjundby gård)”, from 1901, oil on canvas, Åbo konstmuseum and cat. no. 310 or 311 “Sjundby gård”, from 1901, watercolour, in a private collection and cat. no. 646 “Sjundby gård”, from 1927, oil on canvas, The collection of Gösta Stenman.
Berndt Arell et. al, exhibiton catalogue: Helene Schjerfbeck,  Min mor – Hemma, Kuvia kodistani, 2000, p. 70, illustrated p. 71.


The year of 1917 is an eventful year for Helene Schjerfbeck. Finally, the time has come for her first solo-exhibition, even though she has been active as a painter for many decades. The world has not yet been ready for these unique paintings by this very special artist. The exhibition opens on the 12th of September and takes place in Stenmans konstsalong in Helsinki. Schjerfbeck has, during the last fifteen years, isolated herself in the countryside in Hyvinge. For the first time since then, she has now revisited the Finnish capital and the collections at Ateneum. However, she does not attend the preview of the exhibition herself, in fact she does not visit it at all. Instead she has asked the three men that has been of the greatest importance for herself as well as her artistry during the last years, to take the full responsibility for the exhibition. Her beloved brother Måns, the art dealer Gösta Stenman, who she got to know a couple of years prior to the exhibition, and the forester Einar Reuter, who also paints and writes and is her greatest supporter. Schjerfbeck’s exhibition was a great success at once, many of the paintings that were offered sold the first day. This information reaches the artist by letter, and in return she answers, in chock: ”Please reduce the prices. A quarter of what have been asked for then is already a high price according to me”.

In the same year, 1917, Schjerfbeck also paints the watercolour ”Sjundby gård”, included in this sale. Throughout the years, she had often guested Sjundby, where her cousins lived, during the summers and at other times of the year. The cousins had also been figured as models in her paintings, but this time it is Sjundby that plays the leading role. The first version of the motif was painted in 1901 in oil and also in watercolour. This coincide with the time she decides to leave Helsinki. We see how the impressive white manor rises to the sky. It has been captured in a beautiful day, where the clouds sweeps away into the bright blue sky. The red rooftop shines bright and enhances the colours of the trees. But the thing that fascinates the most is the spectacular reflections in the water. The drifting river mirrors the scenery in a dramatic way that is accentuated in the shadows and reflections on the surface. That Schjerfbeck was to become a modernistic innovator was perhaps not something that she aimed for, as she wrote to her friend Helena Westermarck in a letter from 1916: ”Sometimes they say I’m modern, I don’t know what modern looks like, only that one work is a further development of the other, of an experience achieved through that.”

Life was not easy for Helene Scherfbeck. Even though her immence talent was discovered at an early age; she was accepted to the education when she was eleven years old, and achieved many scholarships that led her to Paris, Académie Colarossi and on trips to other continental countries. Her paintings was well appreciated and she soon became a respected name in the art world. But she was an uneven talent. She did not do as others, she was strong, independent and different. Her contemporaries was not yet ready for her, and she did not like the artistic environment that she was part of. This, in a combination with her weak health, led her to the choice of living far away – isolated on the countryside. Instead she made a choice to become one with her art, far away from all different standpoints and influences. As she explains in a letter to Einar Reuter in July 1925: ”It is not with the sense you become an artist, it is with the unreasonableness.”

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