The exhibition consisting of more than one hundred works focuses on Thesleff’s paintings and colour woodcuts. It presents the artist’s phenomenal creating skills, starting with her breakthrough masterpiece Echo (1891), still with realist undertones, and ending with astoundingly modern paintings from her late years. Thesleff’s numerous journeys to Italy had a profound impact on her, which was reflected in a bold use of colour and ever broader stylistic choices both in her paintings and graphic art.
The focal point in Thesleff’s art was nature, especially cultural landscapes typical to both Finland and Italy, but she also created nature-themed, allegorical works. The artist also painted still-lifes, portraits, self-portraits and figure motifs. Thesleff and her two sisters were very musical, which is reflected in the topics of Ellen’s works, which are often linked to music and dance.
Besides a painter, Thesleff was a noteworthy print maker. Particularly, she became a master and innovator of early Finnish colour woodcut. Her woodcuts and paintings are on par with each other, which can be seen in their motifs, colours and execution.Thesleff frequently participated in the annual exhibitions organized by the Turku Art Society. Many of the works now considered classics were shown in Turku soon after their completion. Despite this, the exhibition currently on display is the first extensive overview of her œuvre held at the Turku Art Museum.