Magnus Enckell exhibition at the Ateneum – 150 years since the versatile artist’s birth


A major exhibition of works by the painter Magnus Enckell (1870–1925) will be shown on the third floor of the Ateneum Art Museum, from 23 October 2020 to 14 February 2021. The exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of the work of one of the most significant names of the golden age of Finnish art, and presents him as a multifaceted cultural influencer. Changes to the exhibition schedule and related events are possible.

Magnus Enckell is one of the key artists of the golden age of Finnish art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and yet only some of his work is known. The Ateneum exhibition offers a diverse overview of Enckell’s entire oeuvre from five different decades.

Enckell is known especially as a representative and leading figure of Finnish symbolism. The exhibition and the book to be published in conjunction with it shed light on the artist’s many facets. Enckell, on the one hand, promoted radical reforms in art, but, on the other, relied on the traditions of culture and education. He was a dreamer, but also an international man of the world, a curator of exhibitions, the chairman of the Artists’ Association of Finland, and a creator of monumental works. Music, theatre, and literature were all important to this diversely educated artist.

In the early 20th century, Magnus Enckell’s 1890s subdued palette and emphasis on drawing began to shift in a more painterly direction, towards colour- and light-filled neo-impressionism. Enckell’s best known works include Boy with Skull (1893), The Awakening (1894) and Awakening Faun (1914), which are part of the Ateneum collection.

The exhibition presents many previously unknown works, sketchbooks, pieces from Enckell’s extensive body of drawings, and photographs from his own archive. The exhibition presents Enckell’s work, from the early pieces he created when studying at a drawing school to the mythological works of the 1920s. The artist’s oeuvre is extensive, covering portraits, landscapes, fantasies, religious topics, still lifes, and studies of people. He also created numerous monumental paintings in public spaces, including Tampere Cathedral and the Central Pori Church.

The exhibition curators are the director of the Ateneum, Marja Sakari; the director of collections management at the Finnish National Gallery, Riitta Ojanperä; and the chief curator of exhibitions at the Ateneum, Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff. The exhibited works come from holdings across Finland, including Amos Rex’s Sigurd Frosterus Collection, Tampere Art Museum, Turku Art Museum, the Serlachius Museums, and private collections.

Magnus Enckell: Self Portrait (1918)

Magnus Enckell: Self Portrait (1918). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

The exhibition is complemented by the publication of a richly illustrated exhibition catalogue with articles by experts, offering an overall picture of this artist from the golden age of Finnish art. The exhibition catalogue is published in Finnish, Swedish and English, and it is edited by Hanne Selkokari and Lene Wahlsten. The publication includes articles written by Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Jukka Cadogan, Timo Huusko, Harri Kalha, Marja Lahelma, Riitta Ojanperä, Anne-Maria Pennonen, Marja Sakari, Hanna-Reetta Schreck, Hanne Selkokari, Riikka Stewen, Juha-Heikki Tihinen, and Anu Utriainen.

Go to the exhibition’s page


Magnus Enckell: Banks of the Seine (1912). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen.