Saaremaa Landscape

Saaremaa Landscape

1913–1914Oil on canvas83 × 101.5 cmNational Archives of Estonia

The work depicts the place Konrad Mägi painted the most often at the foot of Vilsandi Lighthouse looking south. On the left edge of the work, we see the setting of Sea Kale and Saaremaa. A Study, but several other paintings depicting the Vilsandi Lighthouse and flora in the area were also painted here.

Such intense attention given to one place is noteworthy. Mägi moves all of a few hundred metres in all these paintings, constantly changing viewpoints. He paints from close up and from afar, from the sea and from the land, from north to south and south to north, west to east as well. He feverishly revolves around one place, focusing by turns on the impressive botanical treasury and rich colour spectrum of the location, and – as on this painting – withdraws and uses a more panoramic perspective, which in a few years would become predominant in his southern Estonian paintings.

This is one of the largest of Mägi’s Saaremaa-themed works and its refinement raises the question of whether it may have been painted in a Tartu studio instead of on location. This idea is supported by the existence of a painted preliminary work, which may have been on site, since it is much more spontaneous and inchoate.