Magnus von Wright

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Magnus von Wright
(date unknown)

Magnus Henricsson von Wright (13 June 1805 Haminalahti, near Kuopio – 5 July 1868, Helsinki) was a Swedish-Finnish painter and ornithologist. In addition to his bird illustrations, he also did landscapes.


His ancestors were Scottish merchants who had settled in Narva during the 17th-Century and his father was a retired Major who owned a large, well-known estate. He was the eldest in a family of nine surviving children. His brothers Wilhelm and Ferdinand also became bird painters.

He attended high school in Turku. It was there that he first developed his interest in birds and was able to join the Societas pro Fauna and Flora Fennica of Carl Reinhold Sahlberg, although he was not a university student. From 1823 to 1825, he attended the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm and studied privately with Carl Johan Fahlcrantz.[1] He was also permitted to study the ornithological collection at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His first professional work came when he was asked to provide illustrations for Otava, a three-volume compendium of Finnish culture and history, prepared and published by Carl Axel Gottlund.

After completing his work on Otava, he was employed by Count Nils Bonde, an amateur ornithologist, to provide illustrations for the multi-volume Svenska Fåglar (Swedish Birds), and was assisted by his brother Wilhelm. Upon his return to Finland, he worked as a cartographer for the land survey office then, from 1845 to 1849, he was a taxidermist at the University of Helsinki's Zoological Museum and taught drawing at the University from 1849 to 1868.[1] In 1857, he made a study trip to Düsseldorf, where he created a series of still-lifes. Two years later, he published his own work on Finnish birds. He also spent many years helping to reconstruct the botanical and zoological collections that had been destroyed in the Great Fire of Turku. His paintings of Helsinki and its environs are considered to be of great historical value.

Selected paintings[edit]


  1. ^ a b Brief biography @ Lähteillä.

Further reading[edit]

  • Anto Leikola, Juhani Lokki and Torsten Stjernberg:
    • Von Wright -veljesten linnut (Brothers of the Birds), Otava, 2003, ISBN 951-118-037-1
    • Taiteilijaveljekset von Wright: Suomen kauneimmat lintumaalaukset (The Artist Brothers Von Wright, Finland's Most Beautiful Bird Paintings), Otava, 1986, ISBN 951-109-231-6
  • Magnus von Wright, Dagböcker (Diaries), ed. by Anto Leikola and Juhani Lokki. 1835-1840: ISBN 951-5830-40-0, 1841-1849: ISBN 951-5830-47-8, 1850-1862: ISBN 951-5830-60-5, 1863-1868: ISBN 951-5830-85-0 Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 1996

External links[edit]