VEMU/Estonian Museum Canada’s Konrad Mägi Painting Became Centrepiece of Exhibit

December 1, 2022

An art exhibit titled “Konrad Mägi. Unseen Paintings” could be viewed at the Mikkeli museum in Tallinn throughout August and September. The exhibition introduced artworks that the public had never seen from almost all of the artist’s creative periods, allowing for a further understanding of Mägi’s legacy. The pieces came from Estonian and Swedish private collections as well as from VEMU/Estonian Museum Canada. In addition, the album “Konrad Mägi” detailing the artist’s life and all of his surviving works was launched alongside the exhibition’s opening.

The painting belonging to VEMU has been brought to Estonia for five years at the initiative of the Konrad Mägi Foundation to be cleaned, restored, and introduced to researchers and the public. The piece is from one of the most valuable Konrad Mägi periods, the Saaremaa period (1912-1913) and depicts the Bay of Abaja in Kihelkonna. The piece belonged to Laine Pant’s family, who brought it along when they fled Estonia. The piece travelled through Germany to Toronto, where it hung in Laine Pant’s apartment for many years.

Ingrid Kütt, a relative of Laine Pant living in Toronto, recollects: “Laine told me that Mägi’s painting had been bought from Pallas art studio in Tartu. When? For what amount? Who was the real purchaser? I imagine that the purchaser was likely Laine’s father Hans Silbergleich (Ants Silvere) since he was likely the only one who would have had the finances – he was the owner of Livonia brewery. It’s a little hard to believe that Laine herself would have been able to purchase the artwork as a 30-year-old, but you never know. Laine fled to Canada through Germany and the painting came along with her and her sister, rolled up along with other works (Ants Laikmaa, Eduard Viiralt, Erich Pehap). Laine and her older sister Aino Assor (Asor), also brought silver spoons and other cutlery with them and were surprised that they didn’t go missing from their open backpacks during train journeys. Laine had a true appreciation for art. When leaving Germany, she spent her last Reichsmarks buying antiques since a currency change was about to take place, and there was no use for German money in Canada anyway.” Laine Pant gifted the painting along with her personal archive to VEMU. This piece is the most valuable in the VEMU art collection.

The exhibit “Konrad Mägi. Unseen Paintings” was possible due to the partnership of the Konrad Mägi Association and the Art Museum of Estonia at the affiliate location in Kadriorg of the Mikkeli Museum. It was curated by Eero Epner, director of the Konrad Mägi Association and Aleksandra Murre, director of the Mikkeli Museum. The painting belonging to VEMU was the focal piece of the exhibit.