Over a period of a century, from 1919 to 2019, the Friends of the Ateneum have donated more than 130 works to the Ateneum Art Museum. The donated works include 24 paintings and 2 sculptures, as well as 5 sketchbooks and 100 sketches by Helene Schjerfbeck. Through the exhibition of works selected from the Friends of the Ateneum collection, art acquisition methods and sources are discussed from various perspectives, and the background and provenance of the works are described.
The works in the exhibition form thematic pairs, addressing, for example, religion, as in Jusepe de Ribera’s Ecce Homo and Anitra Lucander’s The Adoration of the Magi; the depiction of light, as in Alexander Lauréus and Sulho Sipilä’s works; or the portraiture of women, as in Hugo Simberg and Marcus Collin’s oeuvre.
Two sets of items will be exhibited from the sketchbooks and sketches of Helene Schjerfbeck (1862−1946): drawings from 1877 to 1878, held in the collections of European museums, that she created to practise her drawing skills, and illustrations for the book Finska Folksagor (‘Finnish folk tales’) in 1880. By acquiring for the Ateneum collection Schjerfbeck’s early drawings that she created when she was a student, the Friends of the Ateneum have also supported the museum’s research activities.
The Friends of the Ateneum collection also includes two significant works by Helene Schjerfbeck: the early Self-Portrait (1884–1885) and the portrait Einar Reuter III (1919–1920). During the presentation of the exhibition One Hundred Years of Friendship, these works will be on display at the Helene Schjerfbeck exhibition to be held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
The One Hundred Years of Friendship exhibition will also feature Marcus Collin’s work Woman in Black (1918), which will be donated to the collection in 2019. The Friends of the Ateneum have launched a special fund-raising campaign for the acquisition of this work.