Helene Schjerfbeck
The Fencer


Oil on canvas.

34,0 cm x 28,0 cm.

The model for The Fencer (1924) by Helene Schjerfbeck (1862–1946) was Evert Huolman. Originally from the Saimaa region, he became got to know the artist in her then hometown of Hyvinkää. Huolman had an exotic appearance for a Finn, and Schjerfbeck liked her model’s dark features. In a letter, she wrote that he looked as if he were “from the port of Alexandria, or a Tatar prince.” The Fencer exudes the masculine power that typifies Schjerfbeck’s male portraits, and the artist confessed to being slightly afraid of her fiery, “explosive” model.