Thursday 29. October 2015
Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation has acquired Helene Schjerfbeck’s painting Robber at the Gate of Paradise. The work, acquired from Christie´s auction house in a private sale, successfully complements the series of Schjerfbeck male images in the Fine Arts Foundation’s collection.
Helene Schjerfbeck painted the Robber at the Gate of Paradise in 1924–1925, just before she moved from Hyvinkää to Tammisaari. The model was a local farmer, Alku Jaakkola. The model’s beauty moved the artist away from the original theme: a Christ figure transformed into a robber for whom the gate of Paradise does not open.
The Robber at the Gate of Paradise was in its time an exceptional male image. Schjerfbeck painted it at the age of 62. The artist depicts her half-naked male model idealising his fleshly beauty in a way that was unique for a female artist at that time.
In autumn 1924, the artist wrote to her friend Maria Wiik: “I’ve begun to paint ‘The Back’, a local farmer has sat as my model twice already. How beautiful it is, such a strong muscular back.” She mentioned the painting on a couple of other occasions in her later letters: “I’ll leave ‘The Back’ as a study, because overpainting it will weaken everything.”
Although the Robber at the Gate of Paradise is among Schjerfbeck’s most interesting paintings of the 1920s, it is not widely known, as it was for a long time in the ownership of one family. The work was shown, however, in an exhibition at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in 1944 and in a memorial exhibition held in honour of the artist at the Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1946. The work has also been shown in Schjerfbeck exhibitions in Lübeck in 1969, at the Helsinki Art House in 1980, at the Ateneum Art Museum in 1992 and in Frankfurt in 2014.
The Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation already had a series of well-known male images painted by Schjerfbeck: Young Man, c. 1882, Death of Wilhelm von Schwerin, 1927 and Motorist Måns Schjerfbeck 1929.
Schjerfbeck, Robber at the Gate of Paradise, 1924–1925, oil and tempera on canvas, 83.5 x 62.5 cm, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
For further information, please contact:
Pauli Sivonen, Director of Serlachius Museums tel. +358 50 566 1355 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tarja Talvitie, Head of Collections tel. +358 40 638 6700, email@example.com