Lot 26. Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski (Polish, 1849-1915). Looking for Bears (Wyprawa na Niedźwiedzia), signed A.Weirusz-Kowalski’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 102 x 73cm (40 3/16 x 28 3/4in). Estimate £40,000 – 60,000 (US$ 52,000 – 78,000). Bonhams. 09/26/16. Sold 98,500 GBP ($128,255)
with McClees Galleries, Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Dr. Samuel Ewing 3rd, thence by descent
Private collection, USA.
E. Ptaszyńska, Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, 1849-1915, p.113 (illustrated woodblock engraving of the present lot)The present lot is one of three related compositions by the artist; as Eliza Ptaszyńska notes, ‘Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski liked to repeat the works that were popular among art-lovers. Creating other versions, he changed the format, the size of canvas, the details of presented theme.’ The Stelelijk Museum in Amsterdam has a similar composition, dated 1880, and reproduced in several publications.
The current painting, however, is by far the most accomplished version; as Ptaszyńska states: ‘The painting is very beautiful. It is one of the best, the most excellent works of Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski. I am familiar with it thanks to woodcut reproduction which came to light in the XIX century magazine Biesiada Literacka, 1889, issue 39, with title Wyprawa na niedźwiedzia, and then again in Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 1889, issue 331, p.279, titled Powrót Hucułów z polowania na niedźwiedzie and a note: ‘drawing from the painting of Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski’.’We are grateful to Eliza Ptaszyńska for confirming the attribution to Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, and for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.