MAGNUS ENCKELL was a Finnish symbolist painter born on this date (d: 1925) Enckell, at first, 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. He was one of the painters of an altar in the Tampere cathedral.
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 Academie Julian. There he was drawn to the Symbolist movement, and was influenced by the painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes as well as Symbolist literature.
It is generally believed that Enckell was a homosexual, as seems indicated in his erotic portraits which were quite uninhibited for their time, but — as they are wont to add — his homosexuality has never been officially proven. Well we’re going to give Enckell the benefit of the doubt. 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 Masacio 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 Thome and Ellen Thesleff, Enckell founded the group ‘Septem’, in which artists who shared his beliefs came together.
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 and Paris, and of French and Belgian art in Helsinki (1904). He chaired the Finnish Arts Assocation 1915 to 1918, and was elected a member of the Fine Art Academy of Finland in 1922.
Enckell died in Stockholm in 1925. His funeral was a national event. He was buried in his native village in Finland
[Thanks to Jerry Weiss for this lead.]