Sigrid Hjertén

Sigrid Hjertén, Fotograf unbekannt
1885 – 1948 / Swedish modernist painter
Going out into the world

Sigrid Hjertén was born in Sundsvall, Sweden in 1885. She began to paint while still in her home country, and studied to become a drawing teacher, though she dreamed of seeing the wider world. In the company of the painter Isaac Grünewald, her future husband, the adventurous young Swede relocated to Paris and began a course of study at Académie Matisse.

Expressive in art and life

Hjertén’s instructor Henri Matisse was very enthusiastic about her expressive oil paintings – and he was not the only one. Her fine sense of colour, in particular, is still greatly appreciated by those familiar with her work. Upon her return to Sweden, Hjertén completed many nude studies and still lifes. She played an active role in the Stockholm art scene, where she was the only female member of progressive artists’ groups De Atta (The Eight) and De Unga (The Young Ones).

Sigrid Hjertén, Homework, 1923
Retreat from public life

In the 1920s, Hjertén – who by this time was again living with her family in Paris – largely withdrew from public life. Following a diagnosis of schizophrenia, in 1948 she was subjected to a lobotomy, which led to her death. Throughout her life, Hjertén had expressed her worries, fears and anxieties through her remarkable paintings.

Although Hjertén is considered an important figure in Swedish modern art and participated in 106 exhibitions during her lifetime, the international art scene has yet to rediscover her works.