Knut Magnus Enckell (November 9, 1870 in Hamina – November 27, 1925 in Stockholm) was a Finnish symbolist painter. At first he painted with a subdued palette (which included mostly just grey, black, and brown), but from 1902 onwards used increasingly bright colors. He was a leading member of the 'Septem' group of colorist painters. Young Magnus has been considered to be a very influential representator of symbolism. Enckell was one of the painters of an altar in the Tampere cathedral.
Knut Magnus Enckell was born on 9 November, 1870, in Hamina, a small town in eastern Finland, the son of Carl Enckell, a priest, and Alexandra Enckell (born Appelberg). He was the youngest of six sons.
In 1889, at the age of 19, he began his artistic studies in Helsinki, at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Association, but he dropped out and continued his studies privately under Gunnar Berndtson. Enckell was the first Finnish artist to break with Naturalism, which was the established style during his education in Helsinki 1889-1891.
In 1891 he went to Paris for the first time, where he became a student of Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant at the Académie Julian. There he was drawn to the Symbolist movement, and was influenced by the painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes as well as Symbolist literature.
During his second stay in Paris in 1893, he painted The Awakening, in which he used a rigorous composition and transparent colors to suggest a spiritual atmosphere; and, through contact with the Swedish artists, Olof Sager-Nelson and Ivan Aguéli, he deepened his interest in mysticism.
It is generally believed that Enckell was a homosexual, as seems indicated in some erotic portraits which were quite uninhibited for their time, but his homosexuality has never been officially proven. As Routledge's Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History puts it, "His love affairs with men have not been denied ... Enckell's naked men and boys are openly erotic and sensual."
In 1894 and 1895 Enckell traveled to Milan, Florence, Ravenna, Siena and Venice, where his inner conflicts were reflected in his art. In 1898 he taught himself fresco and tempera techniques in Florence, by studying the work of Masaccio and Fra Angelico.
The years in Italy gave his work a greater range of colors and a more optimistic foundation. In the first years of the twentieth century, under the influence of Post Impressionism, he developed a brighter, more colorful palette. An example of this is the series, The Bathers, in dark, lively colors. Together with Verner Thomé and Ellen Thesleff, Enckell founded the group 'Septem', in which artists who shared his beliefs came together.
1907 Enckell executed the commission for the altarpiece of Tampere Cathedral. The fresco, more than 10 meters wide and 4 meters high, shows, in subdued colors, the resurrection of people of all races. In the middle of the painting two men walk hand in hand.
From 1901 onwards Enckell spent many summers on Suursaari Island, where he painted his "Boys on the Shore" (1910). He organised exhibitions of Finnish art in Berlin (1903) and Paris (1908), and of French and Belgian art in Helsinki (1904). He chaired the Finnish Arts Association from 1915 to 1918, and was elected a member of the Fine Art Academy of Finland in 1922.
- Decorated - Magnus Enckell, Cathedral, Tampere in words and in pictures, the city of Tampere.
- The breakthrough in colors and in isms, Septem, the high school for adults of Vantaa.
- Magnus Enckell, The Awakening, the Ateneum Art Museum, Archive.org
- Grove Aet Online
- Benezit Dictionary of Artists
- Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II. Ed. Robert Aldrich, Garry Wotherspoon, Routledge, 2001, p. 148.
See also: Harri Kalha. Tapaus Magnus Enckell [The Case of Magnus Enckell], p. 326. (Historiallisia tutkimuksia, No. 227.) Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. 2005.
- "Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II, Том 1"by Robert Aldrich,Garry Wotherspoon
- (fi)Biographie Lexikon Finland
- S. Koja, ed. Nordic Dawn Modernism's Awakening in Finland 1890-1920 [exhibition catalogue] (2005)
- Magnus Enckell 1870–1925 [exhibition catalogue, Helsinki City Art Museum] (2000)
- Magnus Enckell 1870–1925 [exhibition catalogue, Tampere Art Museum] (1988)