Ella - Helene Schjerfbeck

Mari Tossavainen

Original title: Ella

Author: Mari Tossavainen

Published: 2022

Publisher: Otava

Genre: Memories & Biographies

Pages: 270

Reading material:

English sample & synopsis

The story of the most well-known Finnish artist in the world, supplemented by previously unpublished correspondence

  • A pioneering insight into the life and artistic work of one of Finland’s most beloved artists!

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) is one of the most well-known Finnish artists in the world. Her modernist and realist works have been on display in galleries all over Europe, North America and Asia, a biographical film based on her life was released in 2020, and her birthday, July 10th, is a national day for the painted arts in Finland.

This innovative and fascinating book, drawing on previously unpublished correspondence and archival materials, paints a far more multithreaded picture of the life and artistic work of Helene Schjerfbeck and brings into light the significance of previously forgotten people in her creative work.

In her letters, Schjerfbeck divulged both her works and her thoughts not only to fellow artists, but also to her art dealer Gösta Stenman and people outside the artistic world. Among others, this book elucidates the friendship between Schjerfbeck and her childhood governess, Lina Ingman. The letters Schjerfbeck wrote to Ingman during the 1920s and 1930s show a different side to the artist, and Schjerfbeck signed them with her beloved childhood nickname, Ella.

Ph.D. Mari Tossavainen has done a tremendous job of going through the correspondence and the extensive research and writings on Helene Schjerfbeck and by commenting on the various interpretations. [---] Reading Ella - Helene Schjerfbeck gives a good overview of what is known about the artist, enriched by the clarification provided by the new letters.

– Pirkko Kotirinta, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Otava (orig.)

About author

Mari Tossavainen

Mari Tossavainen, PhD, is an art historian who has, in her previous works, written about Finnish art and sculpture of the late 1800s and early 1900s and about the renowned Finnish sculptor, Emil Wikström.


2022, Memories & Biographies

Mari Tossavainen

Ella - Helene Schjerfbeck