Endel Härm (1923–1996) Endel Härm was born on 7 September 1923, in Viljandi. He comes from a family of prominent Viljandi cultural figures – his father, Oskar Härm, was a long-time manager of the Ugala Theatre; his father’s brother, August Härm, was an orchestra member and cellist; and his mother’s brother, Voldemar Metsamärt, was a translator and poet.

During World War II, Endel Härm was mobilised into the German army, but ended up in Finland as a ‘Finnish boy’ (soomepoisid in Estonian, a moniker for Estonian men who chose to fight the Red Army in Finnish uniforms rather than in German ones during World War II) and in 1943 he was sent to Kehra training camp. In September 1944 Härm was captured and imprisoned by the Russians; he was released in 1946. After his release from prison, Endel Härm went to study at the Tallinn State Institute of Applied Arts, as he was not accepted into other institutions of higher education because of his past. Although he graduated from the institute as a theatre designer, he did not go to work in the theatre, instead working for many years as a commercial graphic designer together with his wife Lilian. In addition to designing advertising posters and packaging, Endel Härm illustrated a few children’s books and did some landscape painting. In 1974, Härm and his wife moved from Tallinn to Viljandi.

The painting style and approach of Endel Härm are realistic. Wandering in the countryside with his wife, he captured landscapes, old farmhouses, and flowers in various techniques. Lilian recalled that Endel could paint very accurately and that the era, when colour photography was not yet very advanced, suited him (Vallikivi, 2020). Endel Härm died on 19 May 1996, in Viljandi.

The author considers the painting Vana Viljandi (Old Viljandi) to be a sentimental reminiscence, as it features a bathhouse and steam mill built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The steam mill has since disappeared from the townscape. The mill was owned by the Estonian industrialist and prominent businessman Aleksander August Rosenberg (1832–1899), who installed the town’s first telephone line and owned a brewery and a brick factory (Vallikivi, 2020).

Endel Härm (1923-1996)
Old Viljandi 1980s. Oil, cardboard 26 x 49,5 cm.
The Museum of Viljandi

KEYWORDS: realistic landscape paintings