A Hitherto Unknown Work by Konrad Mägi Returned from Canada to Estonia

A hitherto unknown painting by Konrad Mägi arrived from Canada this week. The work belonging to the collection of the Väliseesti Muuseum (VEMU, Museum of Estonians Abroad) has been brought to Estonia for five years at the initiative of the Konrad Mägi Foundation. In Estonia, it will be cleaned, restored, and introduced to researchers and the public.

Saaremaa. 1913–1914. Oil on cardboard. Väliseesti Muuseum

The work originates from Konrad Mägi’s Saaremaa period (1913–1914), one of his most highly valued periods, and depicts Abaja Bay in Kihelkonna Parish. The work belonged to Laine Pant’s family. The family took the painting along when they fled from Estonia in 1944. The work journeyed through Germany to Toronto, where it hung for decades in Laine Pant’s flat. She bequeathed the painting to the Väliseesti Muuseum, which took possession of it after her death.

According to Enn Kunila, Chairman of the Board of the Konrad Mägi Foundation, he is overjoyed by the fact that several dozen of Konrad Mägi’s lost works have been successfully found in recent years. ‘It is my particularly great pleasure to bring a painting back to Estonia, which in its day has journeyed thousands of kilometres to the west,’ said Kunila. ‘Laine Pant’s family considered the painting so valuable that despite everything, they decided to take it with them as they fled. They kept it in their Toronto home in exemplary fashion for decades. Many thanks to them in retrospect.’ According to Kunila, the aim of the Konrad Mägi Foundation is to fix up the painting in every respect and thereafter to make it available to researchers and the public.

Piret Noorhani, Chief Archivist of the Väliseesti Muuseum, notes that this is the most valuable work of the VEMU art collection. ‘Laine Pant would no doubt rejoice together with us over the event that the painting that belonged to their family has returned to its homeland, where large numbers of art lovers can see it.’ Noorhani also hopes that Mägi’s painting will find a distinguished place in the exhibition rooms of VEMU’s new building when it returns to Canada.