Her background is a little too complicated for this blog post to present, so I encourage you to link to her Wikipedia entry, these comments dealing with a Frankfurt Kunsthalle exhibit, and this rather lengthy and detailed set of observations and biographical items by a Belgian art critic.
The key point to bear in mind is that even though she lived to age 83, Schjerfbeck had poor health for most of her life. A childhood hip injury is mentioned, so perhaps she remained partly crippled. Also mentioned is chronic lack of energy that could have had a different cause.
Below is a chronologically arranged selection of images of her work found here and there on the Internet.
This is the earliest painting of hers that I could find, made when she was about 17.
One of her best-known paintings. It sold for £3,044,500 at a 2008 Sotheby's auction.
Note the brushwork.
Schjerfbeck had some art training in Paris and, like a number of other painters, spent some time in Brittany.
Perhaps because this kind of thing was expected in those days, she painted a scene from history.
During the 1890s Schjerfbeck taught at a Finnish art school and apparently painted little, if what can be found on the Internet is any clue. But here, in her early 40s, we find representation starting to edge away into Modernism.
By this point, her paintings are becoming more thinly painted and the subjects simplified. I wonder how much of this was modernist influence versus whether this was somewhat due to her limited energy level.
About age 53.
Cubist influence. She did many paintings of women featuring simplified faces similar to what you see here.
A slight return to her representational roots: nicely done Modernism-lite.
Schjerfbeck was aware of art trends outside Finland, but avoided the fashionable Social Realism style during the 1920s and 30s.
Age 80, painting very thinly.
One of her last works.