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.