Albert Edelfelt- An artist that you’ve probably never heard of

I love Impressionist painting. I love the light and I love the warmth of the people portrayed. I had never heard of Albert Edelfelt, but the ads for the exhibit around Paris convinced us to head over to the Petit Palais and find out more about him.

Albert Edelfelt is a Finnish artist who lived from 1854-1905. His work is a combination of Realism and Impressionism, and I was struck by the poses of his subjects which said so much more about them than a traditional portrait, where subjects always seem to be standing stiffly at attention.

Edelfelt caused quite a stir at the 1886 Salon in Paris with his portrait of Louis Pasteur.  He is shown surrounded by his equipment, and we can immediately sense his passion. He looks as if we’ve caught him in the middle of an important experiment.

Besides the many portraits, Edelfelt also loved showing his subjects outside. Wouldn’t you love to know what this woman is thinking about as she fixes her charge’s hair?  .Or this young woman’s thoughts as she listens to a sermon?


These two paintings were hung next to each other, and when I looked closely, I realized it was the same group of people traveling to the baptism for, and then the funeral for, a small baby. It was heart wrenching.      I hope I have a chance to see his work again. Maybe a trip to Helsinki is in my future?

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