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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

The Convalescent

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66(1):10-11. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.529.
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Helene Schjerfbeck's (1862-1946) painting The Convalescentwon a first-class bronze medal at the 1889 World Fair in Paris.3It was purchased by the Finnish Art Society for its collection at the Ateneum Art Museum in the year of its completion. It was soon dubbed ‘pearl of the Ateneum.’2(p9)For a 26-year-old artist to achieve such recognition was exceptional. The painting had been exhibited earlier the same year at the Paris Salon as The First Greening (Première verdure), signifying the hope of an approaching spring.3However, given Schjerfbeck's personal history, its subsequent and enduring name, The Convalescent, is more appropriate. Schjerfbeck's biographers suggest that she poured pent-up emotions into it, drawing on her long history of both illness and recuperation.1,2

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Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), Finnish. The Convalescent, 1888. Oil on canvas, 92 × 107 cm. Ahtela 1953, No. 171. Ateneum Art Museum—Finnish National Gallery (http://www.ateneum.fi/en/), Helsinki, Finland. ©2009, Permission by Carl Appelberg for the Schjerfbeck estate.

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