Aspens, 1893
Ellen Thesleff
Finnish, 1869-1954
Oil on canvas, 54.5 x 27.5 cm
Ateneum Art Museum, A-1991-218

In winter and spring 1893, Ellen Thesleff painted landscapes frozen by the northern winter that glowed with a silvery lustre. The Symbolist landscapes based on her own experiences of nature changed in her hands into cool temples of nature. Thesleff painted Aspens in early spring at Murole, the family's country home in Northern Häme. The Finnish winter landscape is unusually exotic and shows that Thesleff had studied Japanese art in Paris. The non-European shape and size of the work (54 x 27 cm), consists of two squares, one above the other. Thesleff has deliberately emphasised this vertical effect using the trunk of one of the aspens to divide the work into two equal narrow rectangles. This division gives the painting a fragmentary quality and imparts an illusion of receding winter and approaching spring.

Thesleff's winter landscapes of 1893 are distant, echoes of the Winter painting by Puvis de Chavannes. Puvis de Chavannes' new monumental art (Hôtel de Ville, Paris) aroused considerable interest at the Paris (Champs de Mars) Salon in May 1892, which Thesleff visited before returning to Finland.


This exhibition has been organized by the Nordic National Galleries