Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski (1849 – 1915)

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Lot 92. Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski. Polish [1849-1915]

A SLEIGH RIDE oil on canvas 20.5 x 31 in. (52.1 x 78.7 cm) signed; titled on a plaque Provenance: Sotheby’s, New York, May 29, 1980 (lot 225)

Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski grew up in the Russian part of Poland. He studied at the academies in Warsaw, Dresden and Prague. From 1873, he was taught by the Hungarian painter Alexander von Wagner at the Academy in Munich. He settled in Munich in 1876, and joined the Polish circle of Jozef Brand, at the Munich Academy. Encouraged by his teacher, he joined the Polish group of artists in Munich, eventually becoming their most prominent representative, and the best known Polish-born painter of the 19th Century Munich School. Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski received innumerable awards during his lifetime for his works depicting rural life in Russian Poland. Among his favorite subjects were sleigh rides, teams of horses and packs of wolves. The winter sleigh ride, or Kulig, of which this work is an excellent example, is one of the central motifs of Polish art. It is depicted here as a fast and festive ride through the snowy, open fields of Poland on a horse-drawn sleigh. The Kulig was an event organized amongst the Polish aristocracy, where a cavalcade of horse-pulled sleighs, often beautifully decorated, travelled from one manor house to another. The event was usually accompanied by raucous singing, hooting and bonfires in the evening. Participants of the sleigh ride, often dressed in thick warm coats, would warm themselves with vodka and hearty foods. It typically ended with a large feast, held in one of the manor houses, where guest were entertained by musicians and dances.

Estimate: 50,000.00 – 70,000.00 CAD. Hodgins Art Auctions. 11/27/17 (1770000)

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