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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Exhibition - Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905)

Petit Palais
March 10, 2022 - July 10, 2022

Albert Edelfelt, Enfants au bord de l’eau, 1884

Discover the pictorial genius of Albert Edelfelt, a Finnish painter of the late 19th century, through a monographic exhibition organized with the Ateneum Art Museum of Helsinki and nicely staged at the Petit Palais, in Paris! 

After several exhibitions devoted to Swedish and Danish art at the end of the 19th century, the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Paris continues a cycle of discovery of Scandinavian painting and presents more than a hundred paintings, pastels, and watercolors of all sizes, whose particularly careful framing adds to the pleasure of the discovery. 

Although Finland lacks a definite plastic tradition, Edelfelt is its first master. Recognized by his contemporaries, including the Finnish painter Magnus Enckell, Edelfelt was the son of a Swedish architect. He was born in 1854 in Porvoo, on the southern coast of Finland.

Albert Edelfelt, Autoportrait en costume du XVIIe siècle, 1889

After receiving artistic training in Helsinki, he continued his studies in Antwerp and then moved to France, where he launched his artistic career. In 1874, at the age of twenty, he joined the Beaux-Arts School in Paris, in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s studio, while being inspired by the innovative trends of the Parisian milieu. A year later, he met Jules-Bastien Lepage, a great representative of naturalism.

Albert Edelfelt, La Reine blanche, 1877

Initially a history painter, he asserted himself as one of the best representatives of pleinairism, a middle way “between realism and impressionism.” His style was quickly noticed because it offered a new perspective at the time.

Albert Edelfelt, Au jardin du Luxembourg, 1887

He was the first Finnish artist to enter French public collections and gained international recognition at the 1886 Salon with the presentation of his masterful portrait of Louis Pasteur, who became famous for having discovered the vaccine against rabies. 

Albert Edelfelt, Portrait de Louis Pasteur, 1886

Living in France, he continued to travel to Finland every summer, and devoted large, sensitive compositions to his landscapes, where the Baltic Sea is often represented, and to his traditions.  Edelfelt drew his inspiration from the rural life and traditions of his native land to create large paintings filled with twilight. 

Albert Edelfelt, Coucher de soleil sur les collines de Kaukola, 1889-1890

In addition, certain interior scenes, filled with delicacy and represented with tenderness, describe moments of the daily life of refined characters. There, a piano scene, and here, a young woman in the middle of some correspondence or the portrait of a smiling young woman seated, are all intimate moments whose framing testifies to the delicacy and the aesthetic power of the painter.

As a patriot, he fought for the independence of his country against the influence of the all-powerful Russia, and his works made him an ardent spokesman for his country. By presenting the luminous works of the Finnish painter, little known in France until now, this beautiful exhibition with its colorful picture rails decorated with painted wood, a typical material of the artist's native country, will delight the most delicate art lovers. 

A beautiful tribute to Albert Edelfelt whose great popularity in the Nordic countries is about to go beyond geographical borders.


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