The black-and-white photograph of the Finnish artist Helen Schjerfbeck, taken in the early 1890s when she was around 30, could serve as a template for the emotional tonalities that are at play in her self-portraits. She is positioned three-quarters, her large dark eyes holding us at bay while taking us in. Schjerfbeck was a masterful painter of landscapes and still lifes, but her self-portraits—many included among the 65 works on display here—present an aesthetic journey marked by reserve, distance, foresight, and unflinching insight. —L.J.
Helene Schjerfbeck was featured in the August 31, 2019 issue of Air Mail. Read on