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" ...most widely known for her realist works and self-portraits, and less well known for her landscapes and still lifes. Throughout her long life, her work changed dramatically.
[It] starts with a dazzlingly skilled, somewhat melancholic version of late-19th-century academic realism…[and] ends with distilled, nearly abstract images in which pure paint and cryptic description are held in perfect balance. (Roberta Smith, NY Times, Nov. 27 1992)" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helene_Schjerfbeck
“Imagine the life of Frida Kahlo yoked to the eye of Edvard Munch, and you’ll begin to get the measure of this oeuvre…” (The Independent, London, 2003)
"... a Finnish national icon.... Sensitive landscapes, still lifes and penetrating portraits and self-portraits testify to the extraordinary talent of this unique modern artist. [Her] work shows a highly individual development, transforming gradually from melancholy, late 19th-century academic Realism to her own very personal style tending towards abstract Expressionism.
"...painted at least 36 self-portraits throughout her career. The older she became, the more isolated she became. Her later portraits reveal a sort of visual confrontational self-analysis. Between 1939 & 1945, not long before her death, she produced her most impressive series of self-portraits, in which she records her own physical deterioration with shocking honesty. Her facial features become increasingly hollow, until only the ghost of a skull remains. This uncompromising series of portraits can be intensely emotional for some viewers & just plain frightening for others, especially those who find themselves growing quickly older with each passing day." http://bjws.blogspot.nl/2010/08/self-portraits-by-helene-schjerfbeck.html
From about 1902 Schjerfbeck, in poor health, adopted a solitary life, developing a much more simplified style. Her work was dominated by..." http://books0977.tumblr.com/post/130044101697/maria-1906-helene-schjerfbeck-finnish