Classic Week: A solved mystery at the 19th Century Paintings Auction

On the 23rd of October an interesting work by Karl Gun will be offered at the 19th Century Paintings auction at the Palais Dorotheum.

Karl Fedorovich Gun (1830–1877), Service for the 200th Anniversary of Peter the Great on Senate Square in St Petersburg on 30 May 1872, 1872, watercolour on paper, heightened with white, 44.9 x 67.9 cm, estimate € 25,000 – 35,000

Until now, there has been no consensus as to the manner of the occasion described in “The Solemn Service”, by Karl Gun (1830–1877), a primary example of the work of the German-Baltic-Russian artist. Dorotheum has been able to solve the puzzle with the aid of photographs taken by the German photographer Albert Felisch (1839–1908). Felisch was working in Saint Petersburg from 1866 and left a legacy of more than 300 views of the Russian capital.

Albert Felisch (1839–1908), photograph of Senate Square

In 1872 he produced a photographic documentation of the solemnities for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Tsar Peter I (1672–1725). On 30 May, he recorded the central celebration of the anniversary year: the religious service before the Bronze Horseman in Senate Square from a vantage point on the roof of the Senate building. In this current beautifully rendered watercolour, Karl Gun captures the same event from a different angle, positioned as he was on the steps of the same building.


Auction date: 19th Century Paintings auction, 23rd October 2019, 5 p.m.

Location: Palais Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse 17, 1010 Vienna

Exhibition: 12th October 2019 – 23rd October 2019

Contact: Olga Sugrobova-Roth is a specialist for Russian and  Eastern European Art at Dorotheum

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