Reflection in Blue
  • TitleReflection in Blue
  • Technique/ MaterialOil on canvas
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b) 80 x 64 cm
    Frame: (h x b x dj) 110 x 94 x 6 cm
  • DatingSigned 1887
  • Artist/Maker Artist: Eva Bonnier, Swedish, born 1857, dead 1909
  • CategoryPaintings, Paintings
  • Inventory No.NM 1702
  • AcquisitionGift 1910 Publicist Karl Otto Bonnier with family
  • Collection Svenskt 1800-talsmåleri
  • Description
    Images and media

    Eva Bonnier’s depictions of terminal illness, bring us a pared-down everyday perspective, with the artist challenging the stereotypical female bourgeois ideal of the time. Women are presented as “subjects” with strong integrity and not as fragile objects. In Reflection in Blue, from 1887, the figures are painted from a realistic perspective, placing us in the same room as the ailing person.
    Around the turn of the 20th century, convalescing women are a popular theme in art. Those images should be seen in the context of the prevailing view of and construction of femininity, and thus of the standardisation of the female body. During the 19th century, two key images of women evolved: the weak, sensitive and psychosomatic upper class woman and the strong, dangerous and infectious lower class woman. The “Convalescent” became a symbol of female fragility and thus evidence of women’s inability to take part in public life. Those images can be seen as a reaction to the emancipation of women at the time and as an attempt to return them to the home and the private sphere.
    But in the Nordic region one could find many hundreds of female artists and authors during this period. The female artists in Sweden were privileged compared with their European sisters, since they had access to an academic education. The women’s department of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm opened in 1864, and the professional women had a major influence on the cultural life of the period. They changed both the view of the role of the artist and that of middle-class family life, and in so doing they shook the norm of the male artist to the core. But at the turn of the century there was a backlash and women’s emancipation was thwarted, together with a widespread fear of the “New Woman”.