Monday, April 27, 2015

Wilhelm Kuhnert's African Wildlife

Wilhelm Kuhnert, Lions at Rest, courtesy Heritage Auctions
One of the works in the upcoming May 2 Heritage Auction is this oil painting Ruhende Löwen  (Lions at Rest), by Wilhelm Kuhnert (German, 1865-1926).
Wilhelm Kuhnert Jungle Life, BBC Images
Kuhnert was one of the pioneers of early 20th century wildlife art. According to the auction website, "he developed his passion for animal painting during the 1880s in the classroom of Paul Meyerheim at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, who taught the importance of sketching from live models at the zoo."

Wilhelm Kuhnert, Cape Buffalo, Heritage Auctions, May 2, 2015
In Meyerheim's class, students learned to draw animals "from the inside out—the skeletal structure, lay of muscles, and finally the depth and texture of the skin and fur."
Kuhnert, Lion Cub study, 6 x 9 inches, courtesy Delahunty
On trips to Egypt, East Africa, and India, Kuhnert took Meyerheim's lesson one step further and began to draw animals in the wild - a feat especially challenging, as he was not a professional hunter or tracker."
Wilhelm Kuhnert, African Crowned Eagle, pencil, 12 x 9 ½ in.
courtesy Delahunty 
"Kuhnert withstood adversity in attempting to observe the animals as thoroughly as possible, maintaining his concentration through torrential rainstorms, wildfires, severe drought, and heat, not to mention the courage it took to confront a savage, hungry beast." 
Above quote from the book: After the Hunt
Book: The Animal Art of Wilhelm Kuhnert
Online gallery of Kuhnert works at Delahunty
Previous GurneyJourney post about Meyerheim's class: Posing Animals
Heritage Auction, May 2, "The Collection of Judson C. and Nancy Sue Ball", Dallas. Includes the lion painting and the cape buffalo study.
Art and Influence post on Kuhnert


David Webb said...

Wonderful work here, James. I particularly like the pencil sketches, which show what a great draftsman he was.
I once led a series of classes in animal drawing, at Paignton Zoo. I'd carefully prepared a week-by-week itinerary of what we would sketch. The animals though, had other ideas. It's as if they'd had a sneak preview of my lesson plan as, whatever I planned to sketch that week, would be out of sight. Eventually, we would just turn up and draw whatever species was playing ball.

Sesco said...

What kind of wild beast is that eating the bird??? Am I seeing that correctly?

James Gurney said...

Sesco, I was wondering that, too. I assumed it was an African wild dog, but they usually have big round black ears, and a mottled coloration across their sides.

David Webb said...

You're right James. The African Wild Dog has round, Mickey Mouse-like ears. I think that beastie in the painting is a Black-backed Jackal.

Christian Schlierkamp said...

Here's the wikipedia entry on Kuhnert's teacher, Paul Friedrich Meyerheim, also known in Berlin as the "Löwen Meyer" (the "lion's meyer"):

Meyerheim was an amazing painter and a personal friend and biographer of Adolph Menzel.
They inspired each other to explore new subjects, like the new industrial developments, which lead to Meyerheims "life history of a locomotive"

and Menzel's famous "the iron rolling mill"

Wonderful post, Jim! I especially love Kuhnert's drawings.
(I would also think that the animal in the second picture is a jackal)