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Wojciech KOSSAK (1856-1942), Twilight of the Eagles, 1941

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Lot description Show orginal version
Estimations: 128 358 - 163 364 EUR
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oil, canvas; 131 x 210 cm;
Signed and dated l. d.: Wojciech Kossak / 1941.
The painting is accompanied by the author's correspondence with the first owners of the work.

"One of the most terrible dramas in history, is the fate of Emperor Napoleon's great Army on the Berezina River at the end of November 1812. The sweat of a million men, exhausted in the absence of food and fodder, walked through the snowy wilderness of Russia with hunger and unusually severe frosts even for the climate of Russia. The Polish Corps was the only one that had not lost its artillery and was able to repel the Cossack clouds. In Borisov the Emperor learned that the masonry bridge over the Berezina River (a tributary of the Pripyat), which he had counted on, had been demolished by the Muscovites, lost hope of getting to the European shore, and ordered all the banners and eagles of the French regiments to be burned before him, fearing that they would be taken with the army and placed in the Isakovsky Sobor in St. Petersburg or in the Kremlin in Moscow as trophies forever. By the Emperor's side are Marshals Ney Duke of Moscow, Davout Duke of Auerstedt, Prince Joseph Poniatowski, Murat King of Naples." This is the personal account of Wojciech Kossak about the offered painting. Also authorial is the title of the canvas "Twilight of the Eagles" instead of the usual and found in Kazimierz Olszanski's monograph "Burning of the Banners". How does one know this? The featured painting is accompanied by a letter handwritten by Wojciech Kossak, on Wednesday, April 16 [no annual date], encouraging collectors of the time to visit the artist's studio.
Beginning his "Memoirs," Wojciech Kossak cites an anecdote regarding the birth of his, and his twin brother, Tadeusz. Juliusz Kossak's sons were born in Paris on New Year's Eve, with the one difference being that one was born before and the other after midnight - the following year. With a prominent and respected watercolorist as their father, it could not have been otherwise for the sons to continue the family's painting tradition. The one marked by greater, even outstanding talent turned out to be Wojciech, who, like his father, studied in Paris, Munich, among other places. The young Kossak gained recognition in German artistic circles, working, for example, for Kaiser Wilhelm II, as well as turning in court circles. Wojciech Kossak, continued the tradition of historical painting of Polish art of the 19th century. His works depicted battle scenes from the times of Jan III Sobieski, but he became famous for those that commemorated the uprisings of the Polish nation, canvases related to - as Kazimierz Olszański put it - the Napoleonic epic, and ending with monumental panoramas, painted in collaboration with other masters of the brush, of the battles of Racławice, Berezina and the unfinished canvas depicting the Battle of Somosierra.
As the subject of the offered canvas, Wojciech Kossak chose the dramatic scene of the attempted crossing of Napoleonic troops over the Berezina River on November 28, 1812. This historical event was also immortalized in the "Berezina Panorama", which was created on the initiative of Wojciech Kossak and Julian Fałat. The painters created a compositional design divided into parts, among which was the motif of burning banners. While working on "Panorama Berezinskaya" Wojciech Kossak was responsible for the part of the composition abounding in figural scenes. The first presentation of the monumental painting took place in Warsaw on April 1, 1896, in a building on Karowa Street, which does not exist today.
21 August, 19:00 CEST/Warsaw
Start price
128 358 - 163 364 EUR
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Wednesday, 21 August, 19:00 CEST/Warsaw
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