'En ungdomsmelodi', Nuoruuden sävelmä is a version of a painting with the same name that was exhibited in the Finnish section of the Paris World Fair of 1889. The whereabouts of this latter work are presently unknown, but a photograph of the picture is included in a list of photographs for sale in 1890 with the Helsinki photographer Daniel Nyblin. Whilst, in the World Fair version, Edelfelt has depicted his two sisters Annie and Berta (see also lot 103), both dressed in white, in the present work it is Edelfelt's wife, Ellan, dressed in black, who accompanies Berta's singing. This change in the sitters that are depicted, as well as the alteration in composition that arises from the artist leaving out the elderly lady seated in the World Fair picture, suggests that Edelfelt painted the present work not as a study for the World Fair picture but as an independent painting using a composition that he had already employed in the late summer of 1888 with An old melody.
'The new tendency towards the intimate and the saturated moment, which at the end of the 1880s appeared in the art of most countries...is clearly visible in Edelfelt's interiors from 1888-1889...From the first peasant interiors of the 19 year old artist...; from the blond, idyllic picture of his sister Berta curled up on the sofa with her dog (1881...) it is a short step to Seamstress (1887), Ironing woman (1888...) and the now lost interior from Haiko, An old melody (1888), which shows the artist's sisters at the piano in a sun-drenched room with views of the lush summer verdure beyond' (Hintze, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 10-11).
In the late 1880s, Edelfelt was enjoying some of the happiest moments in his life. He had not been married long and his wife had just given birth to his only child. His pictures from this period breathe true harmony and balance; they are testament to an artist at peace with art, life and himself.
The present work has been authenticated on the reverse by Edelfelt's wife, the subject of the painting, Ellan von Born, in an inscription dated Helsingfors, 1 Nov. 1919 and witnessed by Gösta Stenman and Gunnar Bostrom.