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Friday, January 27, 2012

Offering of the Day: An Iconic Game Picture by Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius (American, 1869-1959)

Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius (1869-1959)
A Male and Female Bighorn Sheep
24 x 18 1/8 inches
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right: 'C. Rungius' 

Carl Rungius, born in Berlin, Germany, studied at the Berlin Art Academy between 1888 and 1890. His affinity for animals began at an early age and he was known to frequently sketch animals at the Berlin Zoo. Rungius’ dedication to painting the animals he observed with anatomical accuracy. This, combined with his determination to learn and paint each animal's mannerisms and habitat, made Rungius a truly successful wildlife artist.

Rungius first visited the United States in 1894 and traveled to Cora, Wyoming to hunt and sketch. He would have inevitably seen a plethora of wildlife in this rustic setting. Rungius decided to remain in the United States splitting his time between Wyoming in the summers and New York City for the duration of the calendar year. While he lived in Wyoming he hunted and painted big game animals, such as moose, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains. It was in his New York studio that he then composed his paintings.

In 1905, the artist traveled to the Yukon Territory. The artwork and social connections that resulted from that trip enhanced his style and clout as a wildlife painter greatly. It also launched him into the center of America's conservation movement, promoted by such famous American sportsmen as President Theodore Roosevelt.

Five years later he accepted an offer to visit the Canadian Rockies. The opportunities to hunt, explore, and paint the region were so appealing that in 1921 he built a summer studio in Banff which he deemed "The Paintbox.” He worked there from April to October of each year until his death. The artist passed away on October 21, 1959 in New York City.

Rungius was keenly adept at capturing the ‘chance encounter’ between man and animal, and was also extremely skilled at placing his subjects in their natural context.  Throughout his career, Rungius developed an enthusiastic following among fellow artists and patrons. The National Museum of Wildlife Art maintains the largest public collection of Rungius' work in the United States.

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