Photo: © Bank of Finland
TOUCH OF LIGHT
On the surface, Albert Edelfelt’s (1854–1905) Parisian production glides from one elegant woman’s face and hairstyle to another. Often it is charged with a certain obvious erotic atmosphere and, as here, is clearly the head and shoulder portrait of a Parisian model. The sensual face and upper body is clothed in a revealing outfit are part of the ‘tenet’ of the day. And it was frequently a question of commercial art. In his correspondence, Edelfelt tended to refer to art dealers as villains, who didn’t buy anything. It was easy to generate income by painting flattering paintings. Many of the works are of models with whom the artist had become infatuated. The sitter he used in “Parisian model” is the same young woman as the one he used to create an oil painting that now hangs in the Atheneum collection.
Edelfelt’s skill was well known throughout the clothes atelier around Paris. He followed the artistic life of his second home town and the then-cultural capital city very closely and also got to know its controversial new art phenomenon, impressionism. This had an effect on the handling of light and colour in Edelfelt’s paintings, even though he didn’t dare to plunge into the new style altogether. Caution won the day.
Working with pastels allows for a sensitive depiction of light, value and using pastels, Edelfelt was at his at his best. The light from the right caresses the Parisian model’s hair, face and shoulder as well as the simple composition of the background lift the model beautifully from the background itself.