Self Portrait in a Fur Cap, 1941

Tove loved furs and, from a young age, used to sew herself clothes such as the special fur trousers she wore right through the long, hot summer of 1929. Yet, above all, Self Portrait in a Fur Cap is significant for the striking resemblance it bears to Rembrandt’s self portrait of 1640. The posture, torso, expression, gaze and perspective simply breathe Rembrandt’s influence. Tove’s own works pictured in the background also compare the young artist to the renaissance masters: a young woman artist measures herself against the great men of art history and bravely defines her own place on this playing field. Rembrandt’s self portrait was an homage to Titian, and Tove’s an homage to Rembrandt. This uncompromising piece shows how high Tove had set her artistic goals, and how she saw herself first and foremost as a painter.

Self Portrait in a Fur Cap defined her professional status in a male-dominated field. In October 1941, Tove also wrote to Eva about her personal views on men.

‘I don’t have the time nor money to marry any of them! I haven’t got the time to admire them and console them. I do pity them, I do like them, but I don’t want to devote my life to a performance I’ve already seen through. It’s a man’s war! I can see what will happen to my work if I get married. And it doesn’t help that even I embody all those feminine traits: compassion, admiration, submission, giving up on myself. I would become either a bad painter or a bad wife. And I don’t want to give birth to children only for them be killed in some future war!’

The most important thing for Tove was to be a free artist and to live life on her own terms.