Landscape. View of Copenhagen

Landscape. View of Copenhagen

1908Oil on cardboard34.7 × 27.5 cmPrivate collection

Mägi arrived in Copenhagen in mid-May 1908, en route from Paris to Norway via Brussels. On 15 May, he wrote his friend August Vesanto that he was tremendously weary of travel and nearly out of money, due to which he sometimes had to spend the night on the streets. He was in debt and spent the remainder of his money on painting supplies in Paris so that he could start working upon reaching Norway. Mägi described Copenhagen as interesting and planned to go to shore. Scarcely a week later, Mägi said he had already painted a few etudes, yet now he admitted Copenhagen did not offer him enough intriguing fodder after all; he had already seen everything and said he was uncertain how long he would be in Denmark. He is known to have resided not in hotels but in a rented apartment; the exact address can’t be made out in the letter.

Based on what we currently know, Mägi only painted a few oils and watercolours before Copenhagen – in Åland, Helsinki and perhaps a couple in Paris. The casual tone Mägi uses to tell his friend about the etudes suggests that he didn’t see it as an extraordinary new start but a natural continuation of the path he was on.

From Copenhagen, we know of only two smaller-scale scenes, one of them in an unknown location. Both depict a house of several storeys with a reddish roof, inundated in greenery and trees. As the only surviving Åland scene does not exhibit any of the characteristic features of Mägi’s paintings, we can start the list of Mägi paintings from the Copenhagen works. His palette is still quite spare at this point, perhaps partially due to the limited supplies.