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Albert Edelfelt (Finland 1854‑1905)

A Parisian woman in a pink peignoir

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Classic & Asian 8-10 December 2021

Lot 215 Albert Edelfelt (Finland 1854‑1905). A Parisian woman in a pink peignoir. Signed with dedication ”à H. de […] Monsieur affectueux Albert Edelfelt”. Oil on panel, 41 x 31.5 cm.

Uppsala Auktionskammare would like to thank Marina Catani for her kind help in cataloguing this lot.
Probably executed in 1884.


600.000 – 700.000 SEK
€ 60.000 – 70.000


Sotheby’s London, 20 May 2008, lot 242.

In context

The masterly portraitist Albert Edelfelt’s lovely Parisian woman

With his flourishing brushstrokes, a deep understanding of how to capture the human mysticism and a good portion of confidence, Albert Edelfelt painted himself right into the hearts of the bourgeoise salons of Europe. Edelfelt was the first Finnish artist to achieve international success and during his lifetime he became a distinguished artist both in his native country and abroad. Through Edelfelt the Finnish culture received international attention, he founded the realist movement in Finland and was of the greatest importance for the following generations of artists in his home country. Admired for his vivid and meticulously well-composed paintings filled with light Edelfelt represented a new way of approaching the canvas with his attentive sense of details. However, perhaps the simplicity is his greatest strength that made his success an everlasting history of a true master.

Born on July 21 1854 in southern Finland, Edelfelt was at an early age encouraged by his parents to follow his artistic dream. The education at the university in Helsinki was at the time tied to academic traditions and a historical style that did not suit Edelfelt’s young and free spirit. Frustrated about the institution’s lack of development he decided to search for an education abroad and was granted a scholarship for studies in Antwerp. However, after a few months Edelfelt decided to continue to Paris, the city of arts that offered a free thinking and forgiving culture that only saw opportunities and gathered people from around the world in an inspiring milieu that exploded into an everlasting party for life. He arrived in May 1874 and began his studies for Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts where he befriended many other young artists, among these Jules Bastien-Lepage, the protagonist for the realistic plein air painting who was to become Edelfelt’s closest friend. His first major painting that draw attention was “Queen Blanka”, exhibited at the Salon in 1877. Edelfelt’s popularity rose, soon making him a sought-after portraitist that could capture his models in the most refined gestures. In the year of 1881 he traveled to St. Petersburg, being invited to paint the portrait of Tsar Alexander III and Maria Fjodorovna’s youngest children, an acclaim that undoubtfully was marking him as one of the most influential painters of his time. Further fame was to follow, perhaps the most significant event was when his remarkable portrait by Edelfelt’s friend the scientific Louis Pasteur was greatly admired by the critics, awarding him the French Legion d’Honneur.

Edelfelt was a very popular man, said to be something of a lothario with his fashionable moustaches and dark good looks, always surrounded by beautiful women, many of them being perpetuated in his portraits. The painting included in this sale depicting “A Parisian woman in a pink peignoir” was probably executed in Paris in 1884. The elegantly dressed beauty who’s identity has remained anonymous has been caught in a moment of contemplation. Seen in profile against a simple backdrop of two monochrome colour planes, Edelfelt enhances the viewer’s focus to the striking portrait. With an innate ability to capture her personality the result is an intimate depiction of warmth and freshness. The brushwork is swift and confident, covering the luxurious textures in the fabric of her dress with alternating warm and cool colours in purple and pink highlights. The dressed parts of her body contrasts against her smooth skin and the peignoir is painted with the utmost sense of details in its translucent parts, covering the dark hair. With a deep respect for the individual person, Edelfelt’s realism is inviting, however yet very intimate. With her eyes gazing on something outside the frames she remains with a secret smile on her lips, somewhat symbolizing her as a Mona Lisa of Albert Edelfelt. 

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