Snowy Owl

Karel Purkyně

Karel Purkyně - Snowy Owl
The largest and truly monumental Czech still-life is dated on a sheet of paper, which is a part of the composition and which also tells us that the owl (snow owl) was shot early in April 1862 at Niměřice in the Boleslav region. The Niměřice estate belonged to the Thurn-Taxis family, friends of the Purkyněs. Karel Purkyně used to be their frequent guest.The still-life, or rather portrait of the shot owl, was at the time somewhat unfavourably received by art critics. Jan Neruda, in total disagreement with Purkyně's matter-of-fact vision, criticized the painter for his "careless additions". Today the painting is acclaimed as one the best works of Czech art, above all because of its masterful rendering and colour scheme, more or less only in silvery-white tones. Purkyně put his paints on canvas either in fluid pastose layers or with a rigid spatula, its tip sharpened with a knife. He then covered the paints with thin washes and with his brushwork created structures, which e.g. characterized the different types of feathers of this Nordic bird of prey, in this country rather unusual.
measurements: height 154,5 cm
width 120,5 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 4957
gallery collection: Collection of 19th Century Art and Classical Modernism