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Concealed beneath a Helene Schjerfbeck painting on loan to Ateneum Art Museum for the artist’s 150th anniversary exhibition, a previously unknown painting by Schjerfbeck has been found. The painting Raseborg Landscape was found to conceal another oil painting depicting a woman holding a child. The work is signed by the artist and dates back to around 1887. After cleaning and other conservation measures, the painting will be added to the ongoing Schjerfbeck exhibition in approximately one week’s time.
When preparing for the current Schjerfbeck exhibition, a painting on loan from a private collection had to undergo repairs for a loose frame. During this repair work, some stitching was found under the frame in addition to the artist’s initials: Raseborg Landscape (1890) had been stitched on top of another painting. Conservators from the Finnish National Gallery used infrared equipment to reveal that a second painting was indeed concealed underneath. During this research, a human figure could be made out.
Raseborg Landscape has been in the same private collection since it was painted, and it is now being exhibited publicly for the first time. Previously there was no awareness of the existence of this “hidden work”. It is likely that Schjerfbeck herself stitched the two paintings together. With the permission of the owner, the stitches have now been removed and the paintings separated from each other. The new painting will be cleaned and framed, and after the exhibition both paintings will be returned to their owner.
According to Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, Chief Curator at Ateneum Art Museum and an expert on the art of Helene Schjerfbeck, the discovery is an important one.
“This masterful painting confirms the humanistic approach of the artist. The painting is warm and cleverly composed. What also makes the painting particularly unique is that it has been concealed beneath another painting all these years. In all of my career I have never come across a similar case in which two perfectly completed paintings have been joined together in a single package,” comments Ahtola-Moorhouse, curator of the Helene Schjerfbeck anniversary exhibition.
The Schjerfbeck exhibition at Ateneum has attracted over 120,000 visitors to date. The exhibition continues for another six weeks and closes in mid-October.
Helene Schjerfbeck 1.6.-14.10.2012
Ateneum Art Museum, Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki
Open:Tue & Fri 10–18; Wed & Thu 10–20; Sat & Sun 11–17 (closed on Mondays)
Tickets:€12/10, free admission for visitors under the age of 18
Tickets in advance: Lippupalvelu outlets and online shop, www.lippupalvelu.fi
Further information: tiedotuspäällikkö Marja Istala Kumpunen, p. 050 555 3551, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ateneum’s main partners are Helsingin Sanomat, HOK-Elanto and KPMG.