188 Cape Buffalo

Winning Bid Undisclosed
This item SOLD at 2015 Apr 11 @ 14:18UTC-7 : PDT/MST
Category Western Americana
Auction Currency USD
Start Price NA
Estimated at 150,000.00 - 250,000.00 USD
Cape Buffalo
Artist: Kuhnert, WilhelmDate of Birth: 1865-1926
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 25 x 44 inches
Signed: Signed lower left and dated 1912

Born in the city of Oppeln, in eastern Germany (now Poland) in 1865, Wilhelm Kuhnert was destined to paint, and, from a very early age, he did. In 1883, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin, where his instructors, Paul Meyerheim and Ferdinand Bellerman encouraged students to paint animals and landscapes with an eye toward truthfulness and fidelity, and to paint en plein air, from life, as the Impressionists in France advocated. Three years later, Germany established the colony of German East Africa, which included Mt. Kilimanjaro, the rich game lands around the Rufiji River and parts of Maasailand. To an ambitious wildlife artist and committed hunter like Kuhnert, the call of Africa was strong, and a meeting with Hans MeyerÑone of the owners of the Bibliographical Institute of Leipzig and an explorer in his own rightÑprovided Kuhnert with funds and equipment to make the journey, as well as a promise that his paintings would illustrate MeyerÕs books on his return. Over the next decade and a half, at the head of long trains of bearers, Wilhelm Kuhnert would venture through the wilds of German East Africa. He would draw and paint people and animals, collect specimens, do battle with Tanganyikan natives rising against their German overlords, and explore areas of the continent that few if any Europeans has ever seen. Wilhelm Kuhnert returned from his third major trip to Africa in April, 1912, the year Cape Buffalo was painted. Over the next few years, his world would devolve into war and his body, pounded by years of travel, would begin to betray him. Never again would he be as close to the animals of East Africa in their natural habitats as he was in 1912 and before. Never again would Wilhelm Kuhnert walk, hunt, and paint his beloved Africa. Take a look at the provenance, from an old sticker on the back of the canvas: Rowland Ward, the great London taxidermist, keeper of the Records of Big Game, with its gallery of animal art and library of books on how to get there, what to take, what to expect, and stories about all of it, would have been thrilled to hang and sell KuhnertÕs Cape Buffalo. The eye of the buff in Cape Buffalo grabs you and holds you in its fierce disdain. The horns curve up from the boss, dip and rise again to a burnished point. This seems like a young mÕbogo, in his prime, fearless and dangerous. Kuhnert paints the trees and grass so that the land bends to and makes way for the buff, bowing and scraping out of a healthy mixture of respect and fear. His sleek black coatÑno one has ever done this better than KuhnertÑis like a shark skin suit. HeÕs the size 48 torpedo at the door of the Sands in 1957. Unless you are hunting him, and maybe not even then, you donÕt want him to notice youÑbut he already has.