Gunnar Berndtson

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Self-portrait (date unknown)

Gunnar Fredrik Berndtson (24 October 1854, Helsinki – 9 April 1895, Helsinki) was a Finnish painter who was noted for his attention to realistic detail.


His father was Fredrik Berndtson [fi], a well-known author, journalist and poet.[1] He began his higher studies at the Polytechnic Institute (now the Helsinki University of Technology). Since 1869, however, he had been associating with members of the Academy of Fine Arts and was auditing art classes at the University of Helsinki taught by Erik Johan Löfgren and others.

By 1876, he had made the decision to be an artist, so he went to Paris, where he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme.[1] He remained there until 1882. During his stay, he became part of a group centered around Albert Edelfelt and was influenced by the Salon style of painting. His first exhibit at the Salon came in 1878.

From 1882 to 1883, he visited Egypt[1] as the guest of Alphonse, Baron Delort de Gléon (1843-1899), a mining engineer. He settled in the French community there, painting portraits and providing illustrations, as a correspondent, for Le Monde illustré.

Three years after his return to Finland, he got married. In 1889, he received the State Prize for portrait painting. He frequently returned to Paris to exhibit at the Salon, where he had always had his greatest successes. From 1890 to 1892, he was a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts, where Magnus Enckell was among his best-known students. Another student was Ellen Thesleff.[2]

Berndtson died in 1895 of a "degenerative ailment"; possibly syphilis.[citation needed] He is buried in the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki.[3]

Selected paintings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Biographical notes @ Projekt Runeberg, "Nordisk familjebok".
  2. ^ "Ellen Thesleff". Ateneum. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Hietaniemen hautausmaa – merkittäviä vainajia" (PDF). Helsingin seurakuntayhtymä. Retrieved 27 August 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Berndt Arell, Christian Hoffman: Gunnar Berndtson, Salonkimaalari, Turun Taidemuseo, Pohjoinen, 1998 ISBN 951-749-316-9
  • Maria Vainio-Kurtakko, Idyll eller verklighet?: Albert Edelfelt och Gunnar Berndtson i det moderna genombrottets ambivalens (Idyll or Reality?) Finska fornminnesförening, 2010 ISBN 951-90577-6-5

External links[edit]