Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt, a Finnish painter, illustrator and etcher, was the son of Carl Albert Edelfelt, a member of the Swedish aristocracy and General Director in the Department of Housing. His mother, Alexandra Edelfelt, was an acquaintance of J. J. Runeberg, Finland's national poet.
Edelfelt studied at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Künsten in Antwerp in 1873, greatly admiring the work of the Belgian historical painter Henri Leys. In 1874-77 he studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His historical paintings of the late 1870s showed a detached realist style. However, inspired by the naturalism of his friend Jules Bastien-Lepage, he began to paint rural scenes en plein-air, e.g. Child's Funeral (1879; Athenaeum Art Museum, Helsinki). During the 1880s the Impressionists had a degree of influence on his style but of more significance for his art was the nationalistic and religious work of the neo-Romanticists. His illustrative works were of great national importance, e.g. those for Runeberg's Kuningas Fjalar (1895). In 1900 his work was included in the Exposition Universelle in Paris where he was positioned as leader of the Finnish section.
Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Reitala, Aimo, 'Albert (Gustaf Aristides) Edelfelt', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 22 February 2002).