oil on wood panel dimensions 23 cm x 17 cm (9.06 x 6.69 inches) frame 38 cm x 32.5 cm (14.96 x 12.80 inches) hand made frame in oak tree by Stockholms Bildhuggeri 2023.
Expertise on verso: By Prof. Gustaf Jaenson and the Art Historian Sixten Strömbom.
Provenance: Gallery Fritzes konsthandel, 1970; Stockholm Auktionsverk, Fine Art Auction, 88; And we acquired it in London 2023.
Essay: We are honored to present a rare and powerful self-portrait by the Swedish artist, Hugo Birger (1854-1887), created circa 1885. This small yet compelling artwork is characterized by its swift brushstrokes, exuding a sense of confidence and spontaneity. The masterful interplay of light and shadow is particularly striking, with the white shirt appearing almost as if the artist had thrown the paint onto the wooden panel. The spontaneity of the painting is evident in the striking way the artist has painted his beard, which is quite long and varies in shades from brown to lighter yellow where it catches the light. His captivating gaze, accentuated by his blue eyes, seems to look directly at the viewer.
Hugo Birger passed away at a young age, making this one of the few known self-portraits by the artist. The painting is beautifully framed in a newly crafted oak frame with gold gilding from Stockholms Bildhuggeri and is authenticated on the back by Prof. Gustaf Jaenson and Art Historian Sixten Strömbom.
Self-portraits have always held a special place in the world of art, serving as a window into the artist's soul and providing insight into their self-perception and state of mind at a particular moment in time. For an artist like Hugo Birger, who left us far too soon, a self-portrait is an invaluable piece of his artistic legacy.
Hugo Birger was a Swedish artist known for his landscape and genre paintings. Born in Stockholm in 1854, he showed an early talent for art and studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. His career took him to Paris and Grez-sur-Loing, where he became part of the artists' colony and was influenced by the plein air painting movement. Despite his untimely death at the age of 33, Birger's work left a lasting impression on Swedish art.
This self-portrait not only showcases Hugo Birger's exceptional talent as a painter but also provides a rare glimpse into the artist's personality and inner world. The spontaneity and confidence of the brushstrokes, combined with the mesmerizing gaze and the expert use of light and shadow, make this artwork a captivating and valuable addition to any art collection.
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