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    Description

    CARL CLEMENS MORITZ RUNGIUS (American, 1869-1959)
    Caribou on the Tundra, 1938
    Oil on canvas
    30-1/2 x 40 inches (77.5 x 101.6 cm)
    Signed lower right: C. Rungius
    Titled on stretcher: Tundra

    WEIDER HEALTH AND FITNESS COLLECTION

    PROVENANCE:
    J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York.

    EXHIBITED:
    Rockwell Museum of Western Art, Corning, New York, "Majesty and Wilderness: Works by Carl Rungius", September 19-November 3, 1985.

    LITERATURE:
    D. Allen, Majesty and Wilderness: Works by Carl Rungius, Corning, 1985, p. 30, illus;
    Sports Afield Magazine, July 1988, cover (detail).

    NOTE:
    This painting includes a period Newcomb-Macklin frame.

    Though German born, Carl Rungius was America's first great wildlife artist and many critics and collectors say that his skill and artistry have yet to be surpassed. After studying at the Berlin School of Art, he accepted his uncle's invitation to come to the United States for a moose hunting trip to Maine in 1894. He quickly made connections in this country that allowed him to travel to the Rocky Mountains to hunt and paint big game animals. Those experiences along with the opportunity to study and sketch animals at the Bronx Zoo led to a highly successful career as an illustrator for the leading outdoor publications of the day. By 1904, however, Rungius had ceased illustrating entirely in favor of working full time as a studio artist. He was an active member of the New York art community, joining the Salmagundi Club in 1907 and establishing friendships with such artists as Louise Betts and Frank Tenney Johnson.

    Those relationships in turn led to his work being accepted in the annual spring and winter exhibitions at the National Academy of Design. Acceptance by his peer at the prestigious Academy was slow in coming. At first his work was described as "sporting art" and was not hung in the most advantageous locations. For nearly a dozen years, Rungius confined his National Academy work solely to landscapes as a way of establishing his credibility among the other members. By 1920, his skill as an artist was officially recognized by the other members of the Academy and he was afforded full membership.

    Those early efforts for the National Academy were instrumental in Rungius' development as an artist. By perfecting his ability as a landscape artist, Rungius was able to combine his talents in that genre with his consummate skill at depicting animals to produce paintings that literally defined the genre of wildlife art.

    Throughout his long career, he spent several months out of every year hunting and sketching in the field, traveling through some of the most rugged country in North America. He was particularly fascinated with the Canadian Rockies and first traveled to Banff in Alberta, Canada in 1910. By 1921, he built a permanent studio there that he named the "paintbox." The brilliant colors and sunlight of the Rockies had a profound effect on Rungius' art. Initially his work was very much in the tradition of the German masters that he had studied with as a young artist; his canvases were dark and brooding and his palette ran to subdued earth tones. The more time that he spent in the western mountains of Canada and the United States, the brighter and more vibrant his palette became. His many years in the field not only changed his palette, but his work habits as well. When he first traveled to the Rocky Mountains he said that he spent six days of each week hunting and one day sketching, but by the time he built his Banff studio he had exactly reversed that order, one day hunting to six days sketching.

    Caribou on the Tundra is an example of his finest period of artistic productivity. Painted in 1938, it clearly shows his talent as a wildlife painter and landscape artist. The colors are vibrant and the surface of the canvas is richly textured reflecting his most mature style. Later in his career, as his eyesight failed, his canvases became increasingly flatter, but this painting is an example of his skill at its highest level. Rungius was painstaking in the preparation and conception of each of his paintings. Before beginning a painting he would study hundreds of field sketches to select just the right elements of color and landscape details. As a big game hunter, Rungius had already spent hours studying specimens from every conceivable angle to assure anatomical correctness. Once he had decided on a subject and composition, he made a small preparatory sketch, usually in oil, that would serve as a guide for his finished work. Several levels of pigment were applied to each painting over the course of several weeks in the studio to achieve the final result. Caribou on the Tundra may is the result of meticulous planning, years spent studying wildlife in the wilderness, and countless hours in the studio.




    Condition Report*: Original canvas is not lined and in very good condition.  Faint craquelure is visible in the central region of the background. UV examination revealed seven minor points of inpainting in the upper sky region approximately one inch from the upper edge. Framed Dimensions 34.75 X 44.75 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2012
    10th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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