Hjalmar Hagelstam: Moumoune peilin ääressä, 1938 © HAM / Kuva: Yehia Eweis

The artist’s studio

Leonard Bäcksbacka was introduced to the group of French artists known as Peintres de la Réalité poétique (Painters of Poetic Reality) by Yngve Bäck and Birger Carlstedt. Visits to artist studios must have been heady, with a Bohemian atmosphere peculiar to Paris, whether the artist was French or one of the Finnish artists who had settled in the French capital.

Bäcksbacka was drawn in by the bright palette of the group’s works, although quite far from the contemporary interest for abstraction. He became an active champion of French art, buying many works, displaying them in his gallery in Helsinki and also successfully getting museums to add them to their collections. “When you live in the North, as I do, you want to have some beautiful things to delight your heart,” he wrote to his friend, artist Raymond Legueult.

Hjalmar Hagelstam: Moumoune in front of the mirror, 1938 © HAM / Photo: Yehia Eweis