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28-06-04, 20:43
JULY 1 the Sitka altarpiece "Transfiguration of Christ" opens in Seattle with a reception at 6PM, brief discussion of its surprising history by Norm Westerberg, honorary Finnish consul emeritus at 7 PM and refreshments.

Thus it reaches a point just a little nearer its intended home of more than a century ago: the Sitka Lutheran Church, first Protestant congregation on the Pacific coasts of North and South America. It was painted by a Swedish Finn studying art in St. Petersburg on a commission from the Tzar.

The young Lutheran congregation in Sitka had requested an altarpiece. And since the non-native population included at least 30% Scandinavians, primarily from Finland, serving as governor, staff, clerks, and skilled woodworkers (the Russian Alaska Company's capitol needed homes and ships as well as churches), their request was fulfilled.

After Maria Enckell "discovered" the painting (and a Lutheran cemetery listed in the tourist guidebooks as Russian) and fought for its return (took 12 years) to it's "home" church, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Americas bowed to the weight of documentation and PR and handed it over. However, it was in such sad shape after serving to block the sun into the sanctuary since 1879, that the painting needed to be totally renovated. That was accomplished in Finland to archival quality.

The painting was exhibited in Finland to acclaim, and has toured a number of venues across America. It will return to its Sitka Lutheran Church soon.

Don't miss July 1.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to see the painting in Seattle. Anyone in the area is invited.