1922–1923Oil on canvas67.8 × 58.3 cmSven Pertens art collection

Konrad Mägi reached the island of Capri on 2 March 1922 and spent 45 days there. Despite his short stay, Capri became one of the most fertile chapters in Mägi’s oeuvre: we know of about 10 works painted on the basis of impressions formed here. The works are generally large in scale, rich in detail and have an intricate composition, standing out for their thorough execution and refinement.

Capri had become a kind of sanctuary for Europe’s writers and artists: they sought refuge from the onslaught of modernity and enjoyed not only the warm climate but a romantic atmosphere from the nature and architectural milieu.

Estonian artists had also been to Capri. The best-known was Ants Laikmaa’s 18 months on the island (1910–1912); Mägi’s good friend Ado Vabbe also worked on Capri in 1914. It isn’t known whether indeed Mägi’s impulse for travelling to Capri may have come from Vabbe (or Laikmaa). Mägi’s first postcard from Capri leaves no doubt that the island left a very inspirational effect on him: “Happily arrived in Capri. The island is divine”.

This scene is very noteworthy. The San Costanzo Church is in the immediate vicinity of the port and stood out from far away in the early 1920s, when Capri was less built-up. It was thus an edifice that Mägi might have seen from the deck of the ship while approaching the island and may have made a powerful emotional impression on him, the whitewashed church standing in contrast to the dark cliffs. The painting thus would well be one of Mägi’s first impressions of Capri.

Mägi painted this church at least one more time (Capri, Art Museum of Estonia). Today the church is surrounded by a street grid and its facade has been renovated, but the characteristic bell towers and the general appearance and the mountains in the backdrop do correspond to San Costanzo.