• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7656

    Nordic Art

    15 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 73

    Ellen Thesleff (Finnish, 1869-1954)

    Fantasia (Aurinkosuudelma) Fantasi (Solkyssen) (Phantasy (Sunkiss))

    Price Realised  

    Ellen Thesleff (Finnish, 1869-1954)
    Fantasia (Aurinkosuudelma) Fantasi (Solkyssen) (Phantasy (Sunkiss))
    oil on board
    28¾ x 23 5/8 in. (73 x 60 cm.)
    Painted irca 1945-1949


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Ellen Thesleff studied at Academie Colarossi in Paris in 1891-92 and was hugely influenced by the Symbolist movement fashioning both French poetry and painting of the day. Following sustained periods in France and Italy she was introduced in 1906 to the technique of woodcutting which preoccupied her for several years at the start of her career, and was a genre to which she returned to during her later years alongside drawing in charcoal and painting in oil.
    The present work reflects Thesleff's ceaseless pursuit of capturing on canvas 'the dream of life'. She regarded herself a poet with a brush trying to perpetuate dreamt images or visions. The source of inspiration for the present work may be detected from a letter to her sister Thyra (25/3-44) where she describes her first ever flight which took her from Helsinki to Stockholm in March 1944: 'The aircraft moved so elegantly and so close to the sun that I could have burnt my fingers, and the sun was illuminating the entire scene.' (L. Bäcksbacka, Ellen Thesleff, 1955, p. 111).
    The Icarus and the Sunkiss motifs which Thesleff paints after 1944-45 are likely to stem from this 'encounter' with the sun. They are all, as exemplified with the present work, testimonies to Theselff as the pre-eminent artist of opalescent colours and lyrical, visionary dream-pictures.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Thyra Thesleff, sister of the artist, Helsinki and thence by descent to the present owner.