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Among the Mägi paintings completed before Italy, we know of only a few scenes of cities and towns: glimpses of the Norman harbour town of Dieppe, verdure covered houses in Copenhagen and a 1920 mini-series of views of Kuressaare and Otepää. His largest and most refined city views were probably completed in 1915 in Viljandi – besides this painting, there was another city view. It stands out that Mägi is never known to have painted Tartu where he lived for years off and on. Also, completely out of his orbit of interest are modernist metropolises such as St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Paris, Oslo, Dresden or Munich, where he lived for months and years. On one hand, modernity alienated him against city scenes, while he was perhaps too familiar with Tartu, and thus the city did not trigger the emotional impulse that Mägi had at the core of his creative principles, which he experienced mainly when encountering the unknown.
This painting was painted in Viljandi’s old town, which Mägi often frequented in 1915. Here was the home of Friedrich Kuhlbars and castle ruins, two subjects Mägi painted. Based on Marika Oder’s analysis, the artist was on Kauba Street and painted the prison yard. It is possible that he was on the second floor of the Hotel Kommertz – the down-up viewing angle suggests this. The prison building no longer exists today. Mägi selected an angle that is multi-layered both historically and architecturally. A segment of medieval wall, a sparse wooden fence, a low building that appears like a bastion, and the St. John’s tower visible over them appear one after another as horizontal bands.
The reproduction of these works without the express written consent of the owner of the works is prohibited.