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A number of Mägi sketchpads have survived from his travels in Italy, and surprisingly mainly contain quick sketches of people’s heads. Here and there are also fragments with a few names. Mägi wrote down the name of a restaurant on Piazza San Marco, Falciani, and a square, Campiello della Fenice, along with the theatre building there; also, one of Venice’s most famous bridges, Ponte di Rialto, which was near his hotel, and San Felice church. None of the known Venice paintings depict any of these places. The sketchpad also has the notation “Luisa Lebreton”, which could refer to the woman who owned premises in the Palazzo Michiel Dalle Colonne, but it is not known what the connection between her and Mägi was, if any. Perhaps the jotted entry is an erroneous reference to Louis Le Breton, who produced a few colour lithographs of Venice 70 years earlier.
According to Tomas Ewald, this painting was painted near Riva dei Sette Martiri, which now looks completely different, having been transformed during the Fascist era. It is the continuation of the Riva degli Schiavoni promenade, which starts at Piazza San Marco. This suggests that Mägi did not paint in a very limited part of Venice but roved the city for settings. He mainly sat in a gondola, sketching views of the city from the water, switching spatial perspectives as well as motifs. We see an interest in church towers running through these works, but none of the paintings focus on the steeples but the atmosphere and diversity of forms and colour. He also consistently features gondolas, mainly as compositional elements, but reduced to black shapes with dark human figures without faces, they take on a mysterious meaning. On this painting, Mägi depicts a sailboat – we know of a sailboat scene from his Saaremaa period. But Ewald says it is inconceivable that three rowers are rowing a boat that has its sail raised – Mägi must have soaked details from his own imagination into ostensible verity, taking a playful and carefree attitude to depiction of reality.
The reproduction of these works without the express written consent of the owner of the works is prohibited.