Work by Tove Jansson, the multi-talented “mother” of the Moomins up for auction

Swedish-speaking Finnish author Tove Jansson is famous worldwide as the woman behind the puzzling Moomins universe.

Swedish-speaking Finnish author Tove Jansson is famous worldwide as the woman behind the puzzling Moomins universe. At Bruun Rasmussen’s Live Auction in Lyngby on 4 March, we will encounter another side of her – as an artist with a beautiful still-life from 1939, where her passion for colour shines through.

On 4 March, you have the opportunity to acquire a colourful painting by the creator of the famous and hugely popular Moomins as Bruun Rasmussen will, for the first time, be swinging the hammer over art by the Finnish-Swedish author and artist Tove Jansson.

The work up for auction is from 1939 and estimated at DKK 350,000-400,000. In the still-life, we see a vase decorated with stylised grapes, while crisp, green-red apples and fresh flowers catch the eye and tantalise our senses.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer the work by Tove Jansson during our themed auction focusing on pioneering women artists. In addition to the painting’s obvious artistic qualities – within the frame – Jansson’s story is highly symptomatic of the destinies of the women that we wish to highlight with the auction. The work bears witness to a time in the late 1930s when Tove Jansson travelled to Paris and was inspired by the French Colourists and Impressionists,” explains Kathrine Eriksen, Specialist in Modern Art at Bruun Rasmussen.

From Moomins to Paintings

Tove Jansson is primarily known for her books based on tales of the mystical creatures of Moominvalley, which first saw the light of day in the mid-1940s. Here, she builds on the innate curiosity of children to discover and understand the world, and Jansson’s imaginative universe strikes a balance between idyll and eeriness, vitality and melancholy, magic and everyday life. However, Tove Jansson was so much more than the creator of the Moomins – she had a highly productive artistic career.

“Tove Jansson is today considered one of Finland’s most important artists of the period. Just as in her books, we find that same open, personal sensuality expressed in her visual art, says Kathrine Eriksen.

An Unconventional Life

Growing up in her artistic parents’ home, Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was, from the outset, a rare bird who undauntedly followed her own path. It was clear from an early age that painting was her passion in life. At the age of 16, she began her art studies in Stockholm, later continuing her education at the Ateneum in Helsinki.

Before and during the war, she provided critical satire for the political magazine Garm and courageously protested against Finland’s collaboration with Nazi Germany. Here, just like her Moomins – despite their outward naivety – she warned against the consequences of war and xenophobia.

Tolerance, diversity and joy of life in interaction with the dark and antagonistic thus remained the essence of her literature and art. In her private life, too, her path was unconventional. The position, independence, creativity and equality of women were particularly important to Jansson. She questioned ingrained thought patterns and prejudices – not as a vociferous agitator, but as a quiet revolutionary whose entire existence was in line with her beliefs. Her life, art and love were thus closely linked. As a young woman, she had relationships with both men and women, but she spent the last 30 years of her life with the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä, who is celebrated in the Moomin universe by way of the character Too-Ticky.

The still-life by Tove Jansson is estimated at DKK 350,000–400,000 and will feature at Bruun Rasmussen’s Live “Pioneering Women Artists” Auction, which will be held on 5 March at 7 pm at Nørgaardsvej 3 in Lyngby.

The work will be on display at Bruun Rasmussen’s preview at the same address from 29 February–3 March.