Take a closer look at the life of Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt and his 1898 painting, considered one of the most beautiful Nordic works presented on the market in recent decades.
After the successful sale of the Gottfrid Boon Collection featuring several Finnish works of art, Hallands Auktionsverk has been given the prestigious commission to sell a rediscovered masterpiece by one of the most important Finnish artists of all time, Albert Edelfelt.
The painting, titled Bland Rosor (Among Roses) is an accomplished work of Scandinavian Impressionism showcasing the artist's sister, Berta, picking roses at dusk in the lush garden in front of a summer villa in Haiko, now the Edelfelt Ateliermuseum.
"The picture shows the artist's sister, Berta Edelfelt, picking roses at the Edelfelt family's Haiko summer cottage," explains Martin Laurell, managing director of Halland Auktionsverk. "In 1879, Albert Edelfelt's mother, Alexandra Edelfelt, rented a summer cottage on the Haiko farm grounds in the archipelago of Porvoo. In 1883 Albert Edelfelt built a studio there and spent all his summers there."
Albert Edelfelt was born in 1854 to Swedish nobleman Carl Albert Edelfelt and Alexandra Brandt, the daughter of a merchant, on the Kiala farm in the parish of Porvoo, Finland. At the age of 19 he went to Antwerp to study history painting. The following year he moved to Paris to continue his studies in painting.
In the French capital, Albert Edelfelt established a large international network of artists and cultural figures. Through the portraits of Parisian friends, acquaintances and models, the artist offered an insight into the artistic circles and life of which he was a part.
Edelfelt was recognized early on the international art scene. Above all, his technical ability and his versatility as an artist contributed to his success. He established himself as a historical painter with works such as Blanche de Namur, Queen of Sweden, and Prince Haquin (1877), Duke Charles IX of Sweden Insulting the Corpse of his Enemy, Klaus Fleming (1878), Church Service by the Sea in the Uusimaa Archipelago (1881) and March of the Pori Regiment (1892), as well as several portraits and drawings from The Tales of Ensign Stål. He also painted landscapes of the Nyland archipelago in an Impressionist style.
In 1880 he received a medal when he exhibited his painting Conveying a Child's Coffin at the Paris Salon. He was later elected president of the Artists' Guild of Finland and received various honours, awards and orders. Albert Edelfelt also became a member of the art academies of Stockholm, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg.
Albert Edelfelt died in Haiko in August 1905 and is buried in Helsinki. Today, he is represented in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Ateneum in Helsinki, as well as in the museums of Paris, Luxembourg and Copenhagen. Recently, the exhibition 'Albert Edelfelt - Modern Artistic Life in Turn-of-the-Century Europe' was shown at the Gothenburg Museum of Art (22 October - 12 March 2023).
The Impressionist masterpiece presented at the Hallands Auktionsverk was initially owned by Edelfelt's mother, but upon her death the painting was passed on to Professor Theodor Waldemar Tallqvist. In 1950, his widow Elna Viktoria Sohlberg sold the painting as a 60th birthday gift to engineer Walter Björklund, who passed it on to his daughter Ulla (b. 1926).
"The 1898 painting is undoubtedly one of Albert Edelfelt's finest paintings, indeed one of the finest Nordic works to have come onto the market in recent decades," says Marc Maurie, former chief curator of paintings at both Bukowskis and Stockholms Auktionsverk, who assisted in cataloguing the work.
Bland Rosor (Among the Roses) will be sold for SEK 1.6-2 million (£125,000-160,000) at Hallands Auktionsverk on Sunday, 25 March.