3 Fanny Churberg


Fanny Churberg

Fanny Churberg (12 December 1845 Vaasa - 10 May 1892 Helsinki) was a Finnish painter and one of the great masters of her time.

Her father, Matias Churberg, was a doctor from a family of farmers and her mother Maria was the daughter of the vicar in Liperi parish, Nils Johan Perander. Fanny was the third of seven children. Four of her siblings died when they were young and so Fanny grew up with her two older brothers Waldemar and Torsten. Fanny was proud of her Ostrobothnian family and heritage and was planning along with her brothers on changing the surname to Kuurila according to the family's old estate. They never got around to it though.

When Fanny was twelve her mother died and she had to take on large parts of the responsibility of being the matron of the house. Later on she got sent to a girls' school in Porvoo, but she returned to Vaasa when she was 17-18 years old. When she was 20 her father died. Fanny cared for him day and night during the last months of his life. After her father's death she and her brothers moved to Helsinki where they lived with their aunt.

She started her artistic training in Helsinki in 1865 with private lessons from Alexandra Frosterus-Såltin, Emma Gyldén and Berndt Adolf Lindholm. Her studies continued in Düsseldorf, Germany, but she always returned to Finland to paint during the summer. She was also one of the first Finnish painters to study in Paris, France. Although Churberg remained to a large extent within the conventions of the Düsseldorf school of landscape painting, she openly expressed her enthusiasm for the countryside and its dramatic situations, relying above all on colour and a fast brush technique to do so. The charged quality of her work differed sharply from that of her contemporaries, as did her subjects, for example the tense atmosphere before a thunderstorm in the open country or the deep, swampy heart of the forest.

Fanny Churberg's career ended suddenly in 1880. Her health was weaker and she took care of her brother Torsten who was suffering from tuberculosis. Torsten's death in 1882 made her quite lonely and her will to live lessened as did her energy. The other brother Waldemar, who she used to be very close to, had married in 1877. The reason for ending her career might also have been the harsh criticism she had met before, but she never withdrew completely from the art circles. She did not however paint anymore after 1880, not even to her own amusement, but during her career she had still managed to paint over 300 paintings.


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