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. 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.
 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
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