Schjerfbeck, Helene (Finnish, 1862-1946)

Self-Portrait with Red Spot


Reference Type:
Artwork
Year:
1944
Notes/Description:
Even though Helene Schjerfbeck lived into her 80s, her health had begun to deteriorate more than forty years earlier. Her later self-portraits reflect the aging process in a very honest and self-aware manner, considering both its physical and psychological effects. This image, created when the artist was 82 years old, seems to show a person who is fading away. The forms are so sketchily rendered that there is no clear outline to the figure, and although the facial features are discernable they are shadowy and indistinct. The darker, wide eye and the open mouth suggest that something has surprised, confused, and/or frightened her. The rather chaotic halo around her head adds to the anxiety of the scene. The reason for the oddest touch of all—the red spot that is deemed important enough to be mentioned in the title—is left for the viewer to ponder. Mariann Smith
Keywords:
Art
Aging
Self-Concept
Collection:
Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland