Photographer unknown, Helen Schjerfbeck, c. 1890
Helene Schjerfbeck began her training in Helsinki. In 1880, she was awarded a grant to study in Paris and enrolled in Madame Trélat de Vigny’s workshop, where she became close friends with Marianne Stokes. After traveling around France and briefly in Finland, she returned to Paris to study at the Académie Colarossi. In the 1890s, she returned to Helsinki and taught in the Drawing School. Health issues caused her to resign from that position, and in 1902 she relocated to a small, isolated village to care for her ailing mother. There, she continued to paint but had little connection with other artists. More than decade later, she moved to Tammisaari and reconnected with the art world; in 1914 she was the only Finnish woman artist invited to participate in the Baltic Exhibition in Sweden. After she began exhibiting her work again, she did so until her death in 1946.
A fully illustrated catalogue, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900, has been published by the American Federation of Arts and Yale University Press. Along with an art-historical overview by curator Laurence Madeline, the catalogue includes essays by Jane R. Becker, collections management associate, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Richard Kendall, former curator at large, Clark Art Institute; Bridget Alsdorf, associate professor, History of Art, Princeton University; and Vibeke Hansen, curator, Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo.