Major Acquisition for Museum: Rungius “Stampede” October 18, 2012 | Categories: 25th Anniversary, Exhibits
The National Museum of Wildlife Art has acquired an important early work by master wildlife artist Carl Rungius. The Stampede, completed by the artist circa 1898, was purchased for the museum from a private collection by a consortium of anonymous donors. The large-scale oil portrays a sporting narrative based on an actual Rungius hunting experience during one of his first summers working in the field in Wyoming. The dynamic, action-packed scene is widely regarded as one of the best Rungius paintings from the early part of his career and will complement other major works by the artist in the museum’s permanent collection.
“Rungius’s best paintings convey a transcendent message about the power and beauty of nature and its wild inhabitants,” says Adam Duncan Harris, curator of art for the National Museum of Wildlife Art. “The Stampede hints at things to come in Rungius’s career and will be a stunning addition to the museum’s Rungius Gallery.”
In the painting, a large bull elk and several cows leap over a fallen tree and rocks in response to a rifle shot, which has taken down an elk in the upper right corner of the image. The presence of the hunter is indicated only by a wisp of smoke from his rifle, inviting the viewer to fill in the rest of the story. Rungius credited an 1895 Wyoming hunting trip as the impetus for his decision to leave Germany for good and take up residence in the U.S. For nearly a decade after that first trip, Rungius traveled to Wyoming to study the abundant wildlife, including the 1897 visit in which he had the experience rendered in The Stampede.
The Stampede’s tight brushwork and clear, clean light differ markedly from the more impressionistic style of Rungius’s mature works. Over time he moved away from the early sporting and “action” scenes, instead portraying his subjects in “static, regal poses, monarchs of the vast landscapes they surveyed,” says Harris. The new acquisition joins other key pieces in the museum’s collection from across the artist’s career, illustrating his development from a talented young academic painter to an accomplished American master.
A member of the Museums West consortium and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum, officially designated the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States by an act of Congress in 2008, provides an exciting calendar of exhibitions from its permanent collection and changing exhibitions from around the globe. A complete schedule of exhibitions and events is available online at www.wildlifeart.org. The museum is also active on Facebook and on Twitter at @WildlifeArtJH.
Image Credit: Carl Rungius (Germany, 1869-1959), “The Stampede,” 1898, oil on canvas, 26 x 46 inches. Generously Donated by a Consortium of Anonymous Donors, National Museum of Wildlife Art (© Estate of Carl Rungius)