Ferdinand von Wright (Finnish, 1822-1906) A Ural owl perching on a branch

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Lot 23
Ferdinand von Wright
(Finnish, 1822-1906)
A Ural owl perching on a branch

Sold for £ 36,000 (US$ 48,027) inc. premium
Ferdinand von Wright (Finnish, 1822-1906)
A Ural owl perching on a branch
signed and dated 'Ferd.v.Wright./1869' (lower right)
oil on canvas
63 x 73cm (24 13/16 x 28 3/4in).

Footnotes

  • Named after the extensive mountain range in western Russia this large and elegant owl can be found throughout northern Asia and eastern Europe. Its range extends into the lower Arctic and covers the majority of Finland, where the artist was born and worked. Depicted in its natural habitat of lowland, open coniferous woodland the present lot is a superb rendition of Europe’s most enigmatic owl.

    Ferdinand von Wright was the youngest of fifteen children. The family lived on the remote Haminaulahti estate, near Kuopio. He had no formal training, but studied and worked with his elder brothers, in particular Magnus (1805-1868) and Wilhelm (1810-1887). The brothers immersed themselves in studying the local landscape and animal life. Magnus in particular set about recording all the bird life that he saw in an attempt to collect material for a comprehensive catalogue.

    Ferdinand's approach was somewhat different. He was more interested in the relationship between birds and their natural environment and habits; the struggle between weak and strong played out in the remote Savo province of Finland. Increasingly reclusive, he built himself a house at Haminaulahti on the shore of Kallavesi, which he called 'Lugnet' (Peace). Here he continued to paint domestic and wild animals and faded into relative obscurity. All this changed after he painted 'The Fighting Capercaillies', which was exhibited in 1886 to great critical and popular acclaim. The painting was purchased by The Art Society and now hangs in The Art Museum of the Ateneum in Helksinki and proves as popular today as when it was first shown.
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