Helene Schjerfbeck
Self-Portrait in Black Dress


Oil on canvas.

37,0 cm x 26,5 cm.

During her career, Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) painted nearly forty self-portraits. Her first known drawing of her own face dates from 1878, while the last self-portrait paintings are from late 1945, close to the artist’s death. In this Self-Portrait in Black Dress from 1934, Schjerfbeck wears the high-necked dark dress for which she is known, with a jade-green medallion. Like her other self-portraits, this is mostly a study of the artist’s face, with close attention paid to the features and facial expression. The painting was made on coarse cloth using dark and dry colours; the sheen of oils is only seen on the artist’s pale face.