The Mountain, c. 1933
Oil on celotex
48 x 54 inches
Signed lower right
Helen Lundeberg was born in 1908 in Chicago, and lived most of her life in Southern California. Lundeberg studied at the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Pasadena with Lorser Feitelson, a New York artist recently returned from Paris to study the French avant-garde movement. Under his training, Lundeberg studied the principles of Renaissance and Modern masters, and would carry these lessons into her mature career. Eventually, Feitelson and Lundeberg married and would become lifelong artistic collaborators.
The Mountain was painted sometime between 1931-1933 after she began studying with Feitelson. The painting depicts four classically modeled women within a mythical forest scene. The Mannerist-style bodies and the draping of their ethereal dresses draws straight from a classical idiom instructed by Feitelson. Lundeberg, however, was also experimenting with Surrealism, which presents itself in the unusual mountain in the background and the vine-like trees that undulate throughout the composition. Lundeberg’s early works are characterized by self-exploration and she completed several important portraits during the early 1930s which draw from a Renaissance tradition, as well as the early figurative works of European Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico. Although The Mountain is not a conventional portrait, Lundeberg has painted each figure in her likeness, with her unmistakable auburn hair.