The package label Olga Ehrström designed for Fazer’s rowanberry confections

“Sour said the fox about rowanberries”. This saying was probably in Olga Ehrström’s mind when she designed the product label for rowanberry flavoured marmalade confections produced by Fazer. In the Scandinavian version of the well-known fable, the fox tried to reach the tempting red berries. But since it was unable to do so, remarked disappointed: ”They aren’t even ripe yet”.

Olga “Olli” Ehrström (1876–1938) was a talented artist. According to her contemporary colleagues she would have become one of the leading female artist had she not sacrificed her career for her husband. In the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, an article referred to her as one of the most prominent female artists who participated in the Art Society’s spring exhibition in 1914. Olga Gummerus studied in the Finnish Art Society’s drawing class 1892–98. After that she started at the Academie Colarossi in Paris. There she also met her future husband Eric O. W. Ehrström.

Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation received a part of production of the artist couple as a bequest in the 1930s. The bequest included about 470 artworks or sketches attributed to Olga Ehrström.

Olga Ehrström was in her element as a portrait painter. Her oeuvre comprised also interiors, glass paintings and applied graphic art. The Fine Arts Foundation’s collection consists of more than ten motifs she designed for Fazer. According to the information Oy Karl Fazer Ab’s archive has given, the motifs were introduced between 1908-1923.

Karl Fazer had trained in St. Petersburg. Subsequently he managed to work in Berlin and Paris. After that he returned as a 25-year old pastry chef to his hometown Helsinki. He started to produce chocolate bars and confections in 1894. The industrial manufacture of confections started three years later. They packed the confections in magnificent packages. Renowned Finnish artists, including even Akseli Gallen-Kallela made decorations on the packages.

Olga Ehrström designed the label of the rowanberry marmalade. It probably dates back to years 1908–1918. The image has a reduced character. Likewise, every inessential feature has been left out. Olga has depicted the rowanberry as a stem. There is also a couple of twigs bending down under the weight of the snow and the berries. The snow has been distinguished from the white background. A silhouette-like blue sky and depressions made by fox’s paws help the distinction.

The manufacture of the Pihlajanmarja rowanberry marmalade started in 1895. Karl Fazer had brought the recipe with him from Russia. The original confections contained rowanberry. The recipe has, however, changed since then and the name has received an abbreviation Pihlaja (rowan). For each Christmas season, the company produces about 25 Mio pieces of Pihlaja confections. The Finns have favourited the confections for decades. In other words, they are by no means sour.


Helena Hänninen

Olga Gummerus-Ehrström, product label for Fazer rowanberry confections, early 1900s, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation
Olga Gummerus-Ehrström, product label for Fazer rowanberry confections, early 1900s, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva