Magnus Enckell, Death’s Walk, 1896, watercolour and pencil on paper, 50.5cm x 67.5cm, Ahlström Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

Tones of Black – Magnus Enckell’s Early Work

Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, PhD, Chief Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, co-curator of ‘Magnus Enckell’ exhibition 2020−21

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Don McCracken

Magnus Enckell may not be a household name but some of his works are very well known. Boy with Skull (1892) and The Awakening (1894) are paintings that have retained their fascination for generations in Finnish art history. But what was Enckell like, as a man and an artist? How did his career begin and how did it progress from the late 19th to the early 20th century?

Enckell was already an influential person from a young age, and his interests and bold artistic experiments were the subject of much attention. His artistic career differed from others of his generation, not least because from the start, he received support from Finland’s most prominent artist, Albert Edelfelt, who also later served as his mentor, yet he was also very international in his artistic taste. When many of his fellow artists were involved with the transnational ideas of national revival, Enckell’s interests were focussed on international art and especially on Symbolism.

Enckell’s life as an artist is intriguingly contradictory, and on a personal level he was apparently complex and often divided opinion.[1] Yet he had many supporters, and he influenced ideas and perceptions about art among his close artist friends. Enckell was also good at networking and he forged his own international connections with artists in Paris. Unlike his contemporaries, he worked and socialised closely with women artists, making no distinction between the sexes, which was very unusual in the late 19th century. In his youth he enjoyed deep mutual appreciation and friendships with Ellen Thesleff, Beda Stjernschantz, and the sculptors Sigrid af Forselles and Madeleine Jouvray, although these relationships changed with the times. As we will see, Enckell was able to move smoothly between the Finnish and international art scenes, private and public, between a wide variety of worlds, both at home and abroad.[2]

Magnus Enckell’s early output, from 1884 to 1896, was prolific but also full of experimentation and ambitious exploration. As with many other artists, it is also fragmented, and not just because he is known to have destroyed some of his work from this time: this makes it rather difficult to compile a coherent picture of the early stages of his career.[3] Jaakko Puokka’s 1949 monograph on Enckell provides a comprehensive, chronological list of works but, since many are undated, my research has led me to form slightly different conclusions.[4]

[1] Johannes Öhqvist. Suomen taiteen historia. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Kirja, 1912, 453−57.

[2] See Marja Lahelma. ‘Beda Stjernschantz’, 70−71; Anu Utriainen. ‘Sigrid af Forselles’, 94−95 and Hanna-Reetta Schreck. ‘“The you of my youth” – Magnus Enckell and Ellen Thesleff’, 35−37, in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020.

[3] Enckell is known to have destroyed works that he was unhappy with in the 1890s in particular. Jaakko Puokka. Magnus Enckell: Ihminen ja taiteilija. Helsinki: Suomalainen tiedeakatemia & Otava, 1949, 83; Salme Sarajas-Korte. Suomen varhaissymbolismi ja sen lähteet. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava, 1966, 197.

[4] See the new Illustrated Catalogue compiled for the Magnus Enckell exhibition at the Ateneum Art Museum, 23 October 2020 to 14 February 2021, https://research.fng.fi/2021/01/23/magnus-enckell-illustrated-catalogue.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Death’s Walk, 1896, watercolour and pencil on paper, 50.5cm x 67.5cm, Ahlström Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Fantasy, 1895, gouache, crayon and pencil on paper, 47cm x 44cm, Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

The Interpretation of Dreams: Fantasy and the Musical Stages of Emotion

Riikka Stewen, PhD, Lecturer, University of Turku / Adjunct Professor, University of Helsinki

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Don McCracken

In the autumn of 1894, Magnus Enckell travels to Italy on a study trip, bound for Milan to see and study Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (c. 1495−98). Once there he stays for several weeks, making sketches for what would become his most monumental work of the 1890s, Melancholy (1895). In a letter to his friend Yrjö Hirn, he says that the painting is intended to convey a certain feeling, or emotional state, to the viewer.[1] Enckell and Hirn would both turn 24 that autumn, but the discussion in their correspondence about the meaning of art and the role that emotions play in it started much further back in time. Two years earlier, Hirn had completed his study on the influence of Lucretius, an ancient materialist philosopher, on modern psychological thinking, and he was now focusing on the psychology of shamanism.[2] When Hirn’s study, The Origins of Art, appears in 1900, he becomes a key international exponent of a new trend in aesthetics, called psychological aesthetics. Enckell, the artist, and Hirn, the theoretician, are both interested in the connection between art and emotion, and they recognise that they share the same interests as regards the essence of art: in a letter from Milan, Enckell declares what a unique privilege it is to share ideas with a friend.[3]

[1] Magnus Enckell’s letter to Yrjö Hirn, Milan 5 November 1894. Yrjö Hirn’s Collection, Coll. 75. The National Library of Finland. Salme Sarajas-Korte also mentions Oscar Wilde’s ‘transference of emotion’ in connection with Enckell’s letter, Salme Sarajas-Korte. Suomen varhaissymbolismi ja sen lähteet. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava, 1966, 199.

[2] Hirn’s archive in the National Library of Finland includes his thesis Lucretius’ theory of the psychology of the sensations, 1892, and his handwritten manuscript ‘Preparatory works for the planned thesis about the psychology of shamanism’, 1895, and ‘The beginning of the planned thesis about the psychology of shamanism’, 1897.

[3] Magnus Enckell’s letter to Yrjö Hirn, autumn 1894. Yrjö Hirn’s Collection, Coll. 75. The National Library of Finland.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Fantasy, 1895, gouache, crayon and pencil on paper, 47cm x 44cm, Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Resurrection, study for the left side of the Tampere Cathedral altarpiece, 1907, oil on canvas, 250cm x 400cm, Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Magnus Enckell’s Resurrection

Riitta Ojanperä, PhD, Director of Collections Management, Finnish National Gallery, co-curator, ‘Magnus Enckell’ exhibition 2020–21

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Don McCracken

Magnus Enckell’s Resurrection, painted for the altarpiece of St John’s Church in Tampere (now Tampere Cathedral), was completed in the spring of 1907, and was a key part of the overall scheme of works commissioned for the building’s interior. The church’s architecture and its abundance of paintings have made it one of Finland’s most important total works of art from the turn of the 20th century.

Modern church art

The competition to design St John’s Church was won by Lars Sonck in 1900, and construction began in 1902. The original competition assignment included instructions for relatively simple interior decoration, which Sonck incorporated into his own plan from 1902.[1] The architect’s ideas included fresco paintings and stained glass on the choir window. In his preliminary discussions with Magnus Enckell, the artist was asked to provide a cost estimate, as well as preliminary drafts in 1903. In the autumn of that year, on Albert Edelfelt’s recommendation, the painting assignment was awarded to Enckell and Hugo Simberg. A panel of experts, comprising Edelfelt, Professor of Art History J.J. Tikkanen, Pastor Karl Oskar Fontell, Architect Birger Federley and Lars Sonck, was appointed to evaluate sketches and oversee the progress of the work.

[1] Paula Kivinen. Tampereen tuomiokirkko. Helsinki: WSOY, 1986, 74.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Resurrection, study for the left side of the Tampere Cathedral altarpiece, 1907, oil on canvas, 250cm x 400cm, Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Magnus Enckell, sketch for Bird of Paradise, 1925, watercolour on paper, 47cm x 68cm. Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

Magnus Enckell’s Dreams of Monumental Works

Juha-Heikki Tihinen, PhD, Curator, Pro Artibus Foundation / Adjunct professor, University of Helsinki

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Wif Stenger

When we have reached the innermost room, the dividing walls will certainly collapse. Our eyes will see everything; our heart will regain everything. Then time will no longer exist.[1]

In the late 19th century, the notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk (‘total work of art’) gained great popularity and began to attract increasing numbers of artists, both the young and the more experienced. The young Magnus Enckell was also aware that monumental art was topical and he dreamt of creating his own. Enckell’s vision was fulfilled many times over, as he was able to realise monumental works in a number of churches, as well as a temple of science, the University of Helsinki library (now the National Library).

Enckell’s first monumental work was the Gethsemane altarpiece for Savitaipale Church in 1902, followed by The Golden Age for the library in 1904, the Resurrection altarpiece fresco for St John’s Church (now Tampere Cathedral) in 1907, the staircase paintings for the Nylands Nation building (1913 and 1920) and stained-glass paintings for Pori Church (unveiled posthumously in 1925).[2] Enckell could also be considered a successful artist based on his monumental works, as monumental art had gained great popularity. For instance, in a famous essay from 1891 the French critic Albert Aurier called for Paul Gauguin to be given walls to paint.[3] According to the art historian Hans Belting, the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk represented an effort to bring back art as a collective experience rather than art as an object of individual aesthetic pleasure.[4]

[1] Juha-Heikki Tihinen. ‘Identiteettien lähteillä − Magnus Enckellin luonnoskirjan tarkastelua’, in Susanna Aaltonen and Hanne Selkokari (eds.), Identiteettejä – Identiter. Renja Suominen-Kokkosen juhlakirja. Taidehistoriallisia tutkimuksia 45. Helsinki: Taidehistorian seura, 2013, 92−93 (translated into Finnish); Juha-Heikki Tihinen. Halun häilyvät rajat: Magnus Enckellin teosten maskuliinisuuksien ja feminiinisyyksien representaatioista ja itsen luomisesta. Taidehistoriallisia tutkimuksia 37. Helsinki: Taidehistorian seura, 2008, 127: ‘Då vi har hunnit i det innersta rummet, då skola säkert skiljoväggarna falla ned. Vårt öga skall se alt, vårt hjärta får alt igen. Då finnes tiden ej mera.’

[2] Juha-Heikki Tihinen. ‘Thinly veiled desire – Magnus Enckell’s Portrayal of Men’, in Juha-Heikki Tihinen & Jari Björklöv (eds.), Magnus Enckell 1870–1925. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupungin taidemuseo, 2000, 124−30.

[3] Albert Aurier. ‘Symbolism in painting: Paul Gauguin’ (1891), in Henri Dorra, Symbolist Art Theories. A Critical Anthology. Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1994, 203.

[4] Hans Belting. The Invisible Masterpiece. Trans. Helen Atkins. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2001, 203.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, sketch for Bird of Paradise, 1925, watercolour on paper, 47cm x 68cm. Antell Collections, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Magnus Enckell, sketch for a Petition by the Finnish Art Society, undated, watercolour on paper, 12cm x 33cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Henri Tuomi

Enckell for Artists – Associations, Support, Acquisitions

Hanne Selkokari, PhD, Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Don McCracken

In addition to his career as an artist, Magnus Enckell made a significant contribution to the Artists’ Association of Finland and the Finnish Art Society’s Commission and Scholarship Committee, and here he was able to influence both the status of artists and acquisitions for the national art collection. At the same time, in the 1910s, Enckell’s closest peer friends and allies held the most important posts in the art field: Yrjö Hirn was a professor of aesthetics, Sigurd Frosterus a critic, art expert and collector; and the architect Gustaf Strengell and then the art historian Torsten Stjernschantz served as the Finnish Art Society chief curators responsible for acquisitions and the exhibitions policy.[1]

Enckell was inducted into the Artists’ Association of Finland in 1896. At that time, the Association had more than 40 years of history as an organisation for artists, but it was not until the 1880s that the artists wrested control from the founding members, such as the long-standing Chair Zachris Topelius. One background reason for Enckell gaining membership may have been that his key supporter was Albert Edelfelt, who was the Association’s Chair in the 1890s and who had previously paved the way for Enckell by giving him various opportunities and roles in the art field. Another important reason for Enckell’s membership was that the responsibility for organising exhibitions had been transferred from the Finnish Art Society to the Artists’ Association of Finland.[2] Enckell was regularly involved in these exhibitions. His teacher Gunnar Berndtson had also served as the Association’s Chair from 1892−93.

[1] On the Finnish Art Society’s chief curators, see e.g. Olli Valkonen. ‘Maalaustaide vuosisadan vaihteesta itsenäisyyden aikaan’, in ARS – Suomen taide 5. Helsinki: Otava / Weilin+Göös, 1990, (174−217) 205.

[2] For background events, see Hanne Selkokari. 150 vuotta kuvataiteilijoiden puolesta. Suomen Taiteilijaseura – Finska Konstnärsgillet i Finland. Helsinki: Suomen Taiteilijaseura, 2016, 11−13.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, sketch for a Petition by the Finnish Art Society, undated, watercolour on paper, 12cm x 33cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Henri Tuomi
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Magnus Enckell, Self-Portrait, 1918, oil on canvas, 42cm x 33.5cm Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Magnus Enckell: Illustrated Catalogue

In connection with its major Magnus Enckell exhibition (23 October 2020 – 14 February 2021) the Ateneum Art Museum publishes a fully illustrated catalogue of the artist’s paintings and graphic works intended for researchers, museums and all other interested parties. A survey was conducted in the autumn of 2019 among Finnish museums, foundations and institutions, inquiring about works by Enckell they might have in their collections. The museums then collated and submitted a great deal of information and visual material regarding their collections. The survey also received significant amounts of information from their owners about works in private collections. The survey even uncovered some works whose whereabouts or owner was not previously known.

The catalogue covers Enckell’s oil paintings, pastels, gouaches, watercolours and works in mixed media, from his early works of the 1880s, up to 1925. Enckell’s prints were all created between 1900 and 1922, and a separate list has been compiled to give new visibility to this relatively overlooked aspect of his output. The works that were ultimately included in this catalogue, totalling 426 works, are those for which the museum was able to obtain photographs.

The catalogue is compiled and edited by curator Hanne Selkokari and coordinator Lene Wahlsten, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. It is published in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, Self-Portrait, 1918, oil on canvas, 42cm x 33.5cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

Read more and download the catalogue with more information about its compilation as a pdf

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Featured image: Sigrid af Forselles, Youth, 1880–89, bronze, 43cm x 41.5cm x 26cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Strong, Self-Sufficient and Sharp – Nordic Women Sculptors 1870–1940

Anu Utriainen, MA, Senior Researcher, Ateneum Art Museum / Finnish National Gallery

 A research and exhibition project co-ordinated by the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, and the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki.

This research project aims to chart and compare the women sculptors in the Nordic countries who were active at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. The criterion for the selection is that the women were professionals, meaning that they had been trained as sculptors, exhibited sculpture at public exhibitions or that their work had been acquired by museums.

The project is led by Curator of Sculpture, Linda Hinners PhD of the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. Members of the editorial board are Curator Vibeke Waallann Hansen of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo and Senior Researcher Anu Utriainen of the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki. The research group consists of scholars and researchers in the Nordic countries, Belgium and France. The results of the research project will be released in the form of a publication and an exhibition at the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm in 2022.

The increased presence of women in artistic life at the end of the 19th century marks an important shift and reflects the discussions about gender in this period. This was a pioneering time for women’s rights and particularly for gaining the opportunity to enter professional careers and paid employment. Art was an attractive choice for the daughters of the middle classes. In 1848, Finland became one of the first countries in Europe to give open access to basic art studies for women and men alike at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society. In Sweden, the Fine Arts Academy offered art studies for women from 1864 onwards. At the same time, there were still limits placed on women having careers as independent artists, and conventional opinions had a powerful influence on what were deemed to be suitable activities and occupations for women.

Featured image: Sigrid af Forselles, Youth, 1880–89, bronze, 43cm x 41.5cm x 26cm, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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Two Research Interns Appointed at the Finnish National Gallery for 2021

Two research interns have been selected for the FNG research internship programme for 2021. The decisions were made based on the applications and the following points were underlined:

  • The point of view of the archives and collections: priority was given to students whose applications were based on a concrete and defined part of the FNG collections and especially to previously unstudied and/or topical materials
  • Preparation of the working plan and the research questions related to the chosen collections material

The FNG research intern programme has two aims. The Finnish National Gallery wishes to enhance the study of its collections, including artworks, archives, and objects. At the same time we wish to support students who choose to study subjects based on physical collections and objects, archive material and data.

The research interns at the Finnish National Gallery for 2021 are:

Emmi Halmesvirta, University of Helsinki

Artist Juhana Blomstedt (1937–2010) and his artistic process from the sketches to finished artworks; the sketchbooks and drawings in the Collection of the Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum and the Juhana Blomstedt Archive in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery.

Ida Pakarinen, University of Helsinki

Recycled materials in artworks and art as part of nature; artists and artworks in the Collection of the Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (artists and artworks to be chosen and defined later) and making artist interviews that will be included in the Archive Collections of the Finnish National Gallery; related material in the Archive Collections.

The internship period is for three months. All of the interns will have their own in-house tutors to support them with studying their chosen material.

For more information about the FNG’s research internship programme: fngr@nationalgallery.fi

Featured image: Lorenzo Tiepolo, after Giambattista Tiepolo, Triumph of Venus, Catalogo di varie Opere (…), 1774, etching.  The National Library of Finland, Helsinki Photo: The National Library of Finland

Tiepolo and the Russian Connection

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

Following the recent opening of a groundbreaking Tiepolo exhibition at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, one of the key contributors, Tiepolo expert Dr Irina Artemieva, Keeper of Venetian paintings at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, discusses the research and international collaboration involved in the FNG project

Dr Artemieva, you joined The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in 1982 and became Keeper of 15th to 18th-century Venetian paintings in 1985. How did you become interested in the works of the Tiepolos?

Works by the Tiepolos make up a very important part of the collection of Venetian art of the 18th century and therefore from the start I set about finding out as much as I could about them and about the works, with the intention of adding in new information to that gathered by my predecessors.

 

You are also the scientific director of The Hermitage-Italy Centre in Venice. What is the importance of The Hermitage-Italy Centre for your research and for your links to Italian colleagues?

I was appointed scientific director of The Hermitage-Italy Centre in Venice because over the course of my work – and it’s nearly 40 years that I have been working at the Hermitage – I have formed very friendly and fruitful relationships with many of my Italian colleagues. I know nearly all the key members of staff of the leading museums in Italy and lots of specialists in specific areas. As for my acquaintance with Tiepolo specialists, my own interest – and the reason why I have gone more deeply into the study of Tiepolo – has been connected with the preparation of a major international exhibition and conference that marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giambattista Tiepolo, which took place in Venice back in 1996. For that conference I prepared a large paper on the history of the ceilings by Tiepolo painted for St Petersburg.

 

The art of Tiepolo found its way into important Russian collections already in the 18th century and its popularity continued throughout the 19th century. How do you explain this and the importance of Tiepolo in Russia?

Giambattista Tiepolo is, of course, one of the leading artists of the 18th century. His art marks the apotheosis of Venetian painting: the triumph of light and colour, its ability to convey aspects of reality through even the most imaginary subject. Tiepolo’s imagination had no limits and he was able to master any format, any form, from the smallest to most grandiose, but it was in the latter that he most majestically gave embodiment to his art. Art that demanded above all great internal spaces. Interiors of this kind were only to be found in royal and princely residences and, of course, to commission a master of such a level demanded huge financial resources. So it’s not surprising that he worked in the area of monumental painting in Venice both for the old and the new aristocracy – particularly the new – creating grandiose cycles and fresco wall paintings at the Palazzo Labia in Venice, and at the Villa Cordellina, and Villa Valmarana in Vicenza, as well as abroad. There’s a particularly interesting article in the catalogue accompanying the Sinebrychoff Art Museum exhibition devoted to Tiepolo’s links with Swedish clients and the attempt to invite him to paint a grand ceiling for the royal palace in Stockholm, although unfortunately this commission never took place. For Russia too the grand style was close to the heart of the monarchs and during the reign of Elizabeth, from 1741–62, when there was a huge amount of palace building, there was particular interest in the art of Tiepolo. His painting was really best suited to the style and the architecture of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700–71) and attempts were made to commission works by Tiepolo for Elizabeth’s new winter palace. Three ceilings were also commissioned by the Chancellor of the Russian Empire, Count Mikhail Illarionovich Vorontsov (1714–67), for his palace on Sadovaya Ulitsa in St Petersburg.

As for later purchases, even in the 18th century, we see that only the richest Russian aristocrats could afford to adorn their mansions with works by Tiepolo, among them Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov (1750–1831) and Chancellor Alexandr Andreyevich Bezborodko (1747–99). At the start of the 19th century a large monumental canvas, The Banquet of Cleopatra (1747), was acquired for the new imperial residence the Mikhail Castle. We see thereafter how even in the second half of the 19th century, thanks to the Russian patron Baron Alexandr Stieglitz (1814–84), half of the monumental cycle created by Tiepolo for the Ca’ Dolfin was also acquired. Later Russia became the home of one of the best collections of monumental paintings by Tiepolo. The significance of this collection cannot be exaggerated, even though not all of the works have survived to the present day.

Featured image: Lorenzo Tiepolo, after Giambattista Tiepolo, Triumph of Venus, Catalogo di varie Opere (…), 1774, etching.
The National Library of Finland, Helsinki
Photo: The National Library of Finland

 

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Magnus Enckell, From Suursaari Island, 1902, gouache and pencil on paper, 46.8cm x 66.4cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

Magnus Enckell on the Islands in the Gulf of Finland

Anne-Maria Pennonen, PhD, Curator, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

Also published in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020. Transl. Wif Stenger

Finnish artists began to find visual themes for their works on the islands of the eastern Gulf of Finland in the 19th century. In particular, Suursaari (known as Hogland in Swedish and Gogland in Russian) attracted many artists and became a popular place to visit and paint each summer. The island was also referred to as Paratiisisaari (‘Paradise Island’) and ‘the pearl of the Gulf of Finland’.

Magnus Enckell visited Suursaari nearly every summer between 1901 and 1912. In his day, the island had not yet become the tourist destination it would be in the 1920s. Many artists depicted the island, which is now part of Russia, until the war years of the 1940s. It was handed over to the Soviet Union as part of the Moscow Armistice of 1944.[1] Besides Suursaari, Enckell also visited another island that now belongs to Russia, Pitkäpaasi, as well as Kuorsalo, which is closer to the mainland and part of the Finnish city of Hamina. During his summers on these islands, Enckell created many works portraying the sea, as well as life on the islands and their inhabitants.

Enckell was attracted to maritime life and sailing, in particular from the early 20th century onwards, enjoying the fresh air during long boating jaunts with friends. In this period, health officials were propagating new information about the role of the sun and light, particularly in combatting infectious diseases. Artists too were interested in the fashionable trends of the day, such as naturism and neovitalism. According to naturist ideals, natural nudity without restrictive clothing or shoes, as well as sunbathing and swimming, helped the body to free itself from the shackles of civilisation. Neovitalist thought, on the other hand, saw the individual as part of a life force that governs nature. It aimed to improve a person’s wellbeing through physical culture, while at the same time warding off the ills brought on by modern urban life.[2] These new movements were entwined with the popularity of Suursaari, where the rocky shore hid sheltered inlets with sandy beaches, which later became dotted with colourful changing huts and where the island’s summer residents swam and basked in the sun.[3]

[1] Leena Räty. Paratiisisaari. Menetetty Suursaari taiteilijoiden kuvaamana. Lappeenranta: Etelä-Karjalan taidemuseo, 2002, 5.

[2] Riitta Ojanperä. ‘Vitality’, in Timo Huusko (ed.), Surface and Depth. Early Modernism in Finland 1890−1920. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2001, (94–112) 96–97; Riitta Ojanperä. ‘Keho, vauhti ja voima’, in Pinx. Maalaustaide Suomessa. Maalta kaupunkiin. Porvoo: Weilin & Göös, 2002, (252–55) 254–55; Riitta Ojanperä. Taidekriitikko Einari J. Vehmas ja moderni taide. Helsinki: Valtion taidemuseo / Kuvataiteen keskusarkisto, 2010, 233−36. See also Marja Lahelma. ‘Colour Revolution, Vitalism and the Ambivalence of Modern Arcadia’, in Hanne Selkokari (ed.), Magnus Enckell 1870−1925. Ateneum Publications Vol. 141. Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, 2020, 143–55; also published in FNG Research 6/2020.

[3] See J. W. Mattila and Jorma Mattila. Suursaari. Helsinki: WSOY, 1941.

Featured image: Magnus Enckell, From Suursaari Island, 1902, gouache and pencil on paper, 46.8cm x 66.4cm. Finnish National Gallery /
Ateneum Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen
Public domain. This image of a work of art is released under a CC0 licence, and can be freely used because the copyright (70 full calendar years after the death of the artist) has expired.

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