Albert Edelfelt was born to a Swedish family living in Finland in the mid 19th Century.
He found art training resources limited at the Imperial University in Helsinki, and went to the Antwerp Academy of Art to study historical painting for six months and then moved to Paris, where he found his artistic horizons broadened.
He was one of the first Finnish artists to receive international recognition; he associated with famous artists and hung out with the Russian Czars and their families when they ruled Finland.
He painted historical, romantic and religious works but was most known for his portraits, in particular his portrait of Louis Pasteur is well-known.
He was also an advocate of plein air landscape painting. Though he encountered Jules Bastien-Lepage, an influential advocate of plein air painting, while studying in Paris, he only painted one major outdoor work during his stay there.
Edelfelt was undoubtedly influenced by the avant garde painters he encountered in the Paris galleries and cafes, but remained strongly influence from older masters like Valazquez and Goya.
His later work reminds me in a many ways of the American Impressionists, combining the bright color and free brushwork of the French Impressionists with a solid framework of Academic fundamentals.
I came across Edelfelt through a pair of excellent articles (here and here) on Michael Hirsh’s Articles & Texticles, as part of his wonderful series Parading My Ignorance, or Painters I should Have Known About.
After searching for Edelfelt resources on the web, Hirsh’s articles remain the best source on this exceptional artist and his work, including many preliminary studies, along with the finished paintings to which they apply. I’ve listed some additional resources below.
Edelfelt’s work is featured in an exhibit currently running at the National Gallery of Ireland called Northern Stars and Southern Lights: The Golden Age of Finnish Art 1870-1920 until February 1, 2009 (exhibit link via Art Knowledge News).
Articles & Texticles part I
Articles & Texticles Part II
Athenaeum (7 works)
Hermitage Museum (8 - imtermediate images don't show - use links at right for "full size image")
Vaasa Pages (9)
Northern Lights (8)
Musée d'Orsay (3)
Ciudad de la pintura (2)
Paris by Painters (1)
Konstvärlden & disajn (1)
Akseli Meets Milla (1)
Wikimedia Commons (11 - not all in color), Wikipedia bio
Illustrated bio on Virtual Finland
Finnish National Gallery (many works, though small - click on "See all pictures")
Portrait of Louis Pasteur
7 Replies to “Albert Edelfelt”
The image you show here represents a popular theme of its day, well-developed by artists like William Merrit Chase: the svelte and well-to-do young patron in the studio admiring the artist’s work.
Particularly admirable in this rendering are, first, the seemingly effortless color choices that capture the translucent quality of the print the young lady holds, and second, the high-contrast, almost backlit rendering of the artist’s easel, canvas and materials at the right edge.
Thanks, Dan. I agree. It’s also like the wonderfully painterly portraits painted by artists like Chase, Sargent and Cecilia Beaux.
Thanks for the link Charley. It caused quite a spike in my stats!
Revenge will be mine! :)
I’ll be putting some more `Painters that I should have heard ofÂ´ under the spotlight soon.
My pleasure, Michael.
I’m looking forward to the additions to the series!
Here you can find many paintings by Edelfelt: http://www.fng.fi/cgibin/art.pl?en_home_artist_empty_empty_aedelfel_X0622300=aedelfel&version=html4#X0622300
And by the way, he was not a Swedish person living in Finland – he was Finnish, but part of Finnish people are Swedish-speaking.
There are many books and biographies about Edelfelt, but unfortunately mostly in Finnish…
And here’s some additional information about Edelfelt in English: http://www.douglasproductions.fi/ruotsi/AlbertEdelfelt_eng.pdf
Wonderful. Thanks, Leena!
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