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Lot 229
(2016)
Friedrich Wilhelm Kuhnert (1865–1926)
Brüllende Löwen ()
oil on canvas
44 3/4 x 83 1/2 in
$280,800

Friedrich Wilhelm “Lion” Kuhnert, as his contemporaries knew him, was born in Oppeln, Germany in 1865. After beginning an apprenticeship at seventeen, Kuhnert moved to Berlin in 1883 where he studied with renowned animal painter Paul Meyerheim at the Berlin Academy of Arts. Kuhnert first traveled to Africa in 1891 where he went on safaris in the German and English colonial territories,
sketching and making field notes which he later turned into impressive oil paintings in his Berlin studio. In 1893 Kuhnert had the opportunity to share his vision of Africa with the world at the Berliner Art Exhibition; he proceeded to win the Medal of Honor. Not only a painter, but also a hunter, Kuhnert traveled to Africa as often as he could to capture its wild animals in the flesh and on the canvas. In between Kuhnert’s extended visits to Africa, he returned to Germany where he continued his wildlife studies, traveling throughout Europe in pursuit of indigenous species including the red stag, elk, bison, wild boar, and moose. Kuhnert died while traveling in Switzerland in 1926, leaving a legacy of extraordinary wildlife paintings behind. It is estimated that Kuhnert’s body of work totaled 5,500 paintings. Today, there are less than a thousand known works in existence. The remainder of his artwork was destroyed or lost in World War II. Terry Wieland poignantly spoke to the scarcity of Kuhnert’s work, saying “Kuhnert loved Africa. He foresaw its end. He tried to preserve its memory in canvas, at least, and now even those memories are largely gone. From Africa to Berlin to points east to oblivion, washed away like tears in the rain.”1 The rarity of extant works by this German master speaks in and of itself to the importance of this collection. The eight Kuhnert paintings in this special section reflect the artist’s love of Africa and the magnificent tigers of the east. Ranging in medium from oil to watercolor and in scale from miniature to monumental, this body of work serves as a rare window into Kuhnert’s artistic process, style, and development.