Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Von Zügel's Animal Paintings from Life

Heinrich von Zügel (1850-1941) made oil studies of cattle from life, rather than painting from dead animals, as Rungius and Stubbs typically did.

This required the assistance of young farm hands who could hold the cattle more or less in position. Frank Calderon, in his book Animal Drawing and Anatomy, talks about how he set up live cattle for his student painters:
"I generally selected a shady spot and had the cattle fastened to a crate that was full of hay or fresh cut green food. Sometimes I had a small box placed on the ground in front of the crate in which were a few pieces of oil cake as a tidbit to start upon. This I found always resulted in the animals hurrying up to their places and quietly submitting to be tied up."

Von Zügel said in his autobiography: "To simply paint an animal was always easy for me. But placing it into an atmosphere of air and light, and depicting its appearance in the moment where it is most beautiful, isn't always possible to achieve, because it's not always easy to focus on the form along with these other qualities. To capture both form and color was always my highest ambition."  

Heinrich von Zügel also made more informal drawings in his sketchbook, often with the goal of capturing a momentary pose or expression.

Because his memory was well stocked with knowledge and observation, he was able to compose imaginative action scenes that would be impossible to stage or pose, such as this boar hunt.

Book: Animal Drawing and Anatomy by Frank Calderon
Wikipedia: Heinrich von Zügel in German and in English
Free 1909 article: Studio Magazine on von Zügel
Bio of  Von Zügel in English
Previously on GJ: Rosa Bonheur ram studies
Thanks, Christoph Heuer and Christian Schlierkamp

Painting Animals from Life 
(Instructional video by James G.)
Digital download from:


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