Helene Schjerfbeck
Girl with Blue Ribbon


Watercolour, gouache and pastel on paper.

46,0 cm x 34,5 cm.

The model for Girl with Blue Ribbon (1909) by Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) was a girl from Hyvinkää named Fanny, who used to walk past the artist’s house on her way to school. Schjerfbeck had been hoping to paint her for a few years, until she finally managed it in late 1909. She found the slight, “violet-faced and flour-cheeked” Fanny difficult to paint and considered watercolours and chalk pastels the best way to conjure up the essence of her model. The artist worked on the painting for a long time, rendering her with only a few, carefully considered tones of grey, brown and green. Eventually feeling that the work lacked colour, Schjerfbeck bestowed the painting’s Fanny with a wide-brimmed black hat and, finally, a blue cross-body ribbon.