Double Portrait of the Artist in Time

Media - 1978.51 - SAAM-1978.51_1 - 87424
Copied Helen Lundeberg, Double Portrait of the Artist in Time, 1935, oil on fiberboard, 47 3440 in. (121.3101.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1978.51

Artwork Details

Double Portrait of the Artist in Time
47 3440 in. (121.3101.6 cm.)
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums Description
oil on fiberboard
  • Object — flower
  • Architecture Interior — domestic — house
  • Occupation — art — printmaker
  • Portrait female — Lundeberg, Helen — child
  • Allegory — time
  • Allegory — life
  • Portrait female — Lundeberg, Helen — full length
  • Object — furniture — clock
  • Occupation — art — painter
Object Number

Artwork Description

In Double Portrait, Helen Lundeberg incorporated different figures and objects to symbolize the stages of her life. The time on the clock represents the child’s age of two and a quarter, and the blank paper suggests her unknown future. She holds a flower bud to emphasize her undeveloped state, whereas the adult figure holds a blooming flower to show that she has experienced sex and love. Lundeberg connected the young girl to the grown woman with a shadow to suggest that the two parts of her life are “psychologically bridged.” The subdued tones and flat colors create a mysterious world where the shadow hovers like a ghost over the shoulders of both figures.