The Easel

“Independent Visions: Helene Schjerfbeck and Her Contemporaries” at Scandinavia House

Her art training had included Paris but by mid-career Schjerfbeck was in rural Finland caring for her mother. This semi-isolation may have helped her find her own voice. Her landscapes are “pleasant”; in contrast her portraits have a “nettlesome gravitas. You’d have to look to late Rembrandt or Bonnard to find a picture that confronts mortality with as much sobriety and candor. [She] deserves a place of prominence in the genre.”