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Ateneum discovers unknown Schjerfbeck painting

Officials at the Ateneum art museum on Monday discovered a previously unknown work by Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck concealed beneath another painting.

Helene Schjerfbeckin maalaus.
The second Helen Schjerfback painting was revealed Monday. Image: Satu-Lotta Peltola / Yle

Gallery officials stumbled upon the painting when they noticed stitches beneath another work as they prepared for a jubilee exhibition featuring the work of Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck.

Schjerfbeck had apparently concealed the work beneath another piece. The new painting depicts a rear view of a mother and child and is estimated to date back to 1890.

Helsinki man now owns two Schjerfbecks

The chain of events began when an elderly Helsinki man offered to put his Helene Schjerfbeck painting on display for the jubilee exhibition. The original painting is of a Raseborg landscape from 1890.

While preparing for the exhibition, Ateneum conservationists soon detected additional stitching beneath the frame. Infrared imaging of the artwork revealed a second canvas with a human figure.

Stitches removed in presence of media and museum staff

The stitches were removed from the Schjerfbeck painting Monday at a news conference at the art gallery. Beneath the landscape was a complete but somewhat worn second painting of a mother and child.

One of the most renowned Nordic artists, it’s speculated that Schjerfbeck may have painted the previously unknown work during a trip to Paris.

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