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The “sick child” theme was common in late 19th-century art, especially favored by female artists. For Scheffbeck, the topic was personal—as a little girl, she suffered a severe hip injury and had an illness throughout her childhood and beyond.

But at the same time, her take on the topic is about hope, healing and rejuvenation, as the title suggests. The work is divided into two parts: light and dark. The light coming from both directions unites the picture as a whole. Light enters the artist’s study from two directions, just like the space in the picture. The brushstrokes of the work are lively and the treatment of light is reminiscent of Impressionism. The branch in the girl’s hand is a symbol of new life. The title of the piece also mentions a sick child recovering. The bright light of spring filled the room and the girl’s face.

The painting was praised in Paris and included in the Paris Salon. And the acceptance of returning to Finland was initially controversial; the work was deemed too realistic. Throughout her career, Helen Scheffbeck has further explored this topic and created some later versions of this artwork.

Thanks to Europeana , we present this painting, which belongs to the collection of the National Gallery of Finland.

PS Find out more about Helen Scheffbeck ‘s life and check out more of her amazing work!

92 x 107 cm

European Digital Library

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