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Edelfelt painting fetches record 637k euros in online auction

The winning bid, some 637,000 euros, is the highest sum paid in an online auction in Finland, and may be the largest amount ever bid on an Edelfelt work.

Albert Edelfeltin maalaus ristiäissatto
19th century Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt's painting 'Dopfärd' (roughly translated to Baptism Journey), made in 1880. Image: Stockholms auktionsverk

Åland-based businessman and art collector Anders Wiklöf made the winning bid on a classic painting by 19th century Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt, to the tune of 637,000 euros, the highest sum known to have been paid in a domestic online auction.

The auction was carried out by Swedish auction house Stockholms Auktionsverk Online, and Wiklöf's winning bid came in at the last moments of the auction, according to the firm's art expert Helena Laakso, who said the sum may be the most an Edelfelt work has ever fetched.

Original 'too depressing'

The painting is titled Dopfärd (roughly translated to Baptism Journey), and depicts a group of cheerful-looking people in a boat on their way to a baby's baptism.

Dopfärd was completed in 1880 and is effectively a duplicate of a similar, but much darker, painting Edelfelt made two years earlier called A Child's Funeral.

The earlier work depicts the same group of people in the same boat, but instead features darker hues and a child's coffin rather than an infant.

Edelfelt originally made the auctioned painting for Swiss art dealer Joseph Bulla, who told the artist he thought the original motif was too depressing and unsellable. Dopfärd is slightly smaller in size than Edelfelts original version.

Dopfärd is currently on exhibit at the Turku Art Museum in Turku, Finland.

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