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Helene Schjerfbeck

20 July — 27 October 2019

This exhibition is now closed

See upcoming exhibitions

"Her self-portraits put her in the company of Goya, Rembrandt, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud"

The Observer


"This terrific exhibition is long overdue."

Evening Standard


Instead of tapering off into rehearsed formulas, her art gets better as it heads from start to finish.

Time Out


This is the first solo exhibition of her work to be staged in this country. Make the most of the opportunity; you are in for the most wonderfully striking surprise.

The Times

Discover the mesmerising paintings of Helene Schjerfbeck, one of Finland’s best kept secrets, in the UK’s first major exhibition of her work.

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) is a Finnish national icon. From her early naturalistic style – honed during her studies in France – to her highly abstracted self-portraits, this exhibition will present Schjerfbeck for the first time to UK audiences.

Talented and widely travelled, Schjerfbeck found artistic success at a young age. In the 1880s she connected with artists’ colonies in Pont Aven, Brittany and St. Ives, Cornwall. In her later years, she left the Finnish capital for a quieter life that allowed her to concentrate on her work. Nonetheless, keeping in touch with artist friends and the seismic shifts in modern art, she produced some of her most raw and radically abstracted paintings in these years.

Through over 60 portraits, landscapes and still lifes, this long-overdue survey traces the evolution of her remarkable career. Among the highlights will be a sequence of self-portraits, which demonstrate Schjerfbeck’s lifelong fascination with the physical and psychological process of ageing. In the age of the selfie, her engagement with masks and masquerade – the superficial appearance we present to the world and what lies beneath – is more relevant than ever.

Overlooked for too long, Schjerfbeck’s unique vision and painterly invention will be a revelation.

The exhibition has been curated by Jeremy Lewison, together with Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff and Sarah Lea.

Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Ateneum Art Museum / Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki.

20 July — 27 October 2019

Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm

£14 (without donation £12). Concessions available. Friends of the RA, and under 16s when with a fee-paying adult, go free.

The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts