Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius was trained at the Berlin Art School, the Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Applied Arts in Berlin, Germany. Invited by a Brooklyn, New York uncle to take a hunting trip to Maine in 1894, he got his first look at America and stayed on to spend the following summer hunting in Wyoming. After a brief return to Germany, where he realized that his enthusiasm for the wilder landscape and more plentiful game in America was too powerful an attraction to ignore, Rungius returned to settle on Long Island, New York in 1897.
He revisited Wyoming in successive years, and in 1904 accompanied a scientific expedition into Canada’s Yukon Territory where he studied high mountain sheep. Back in New York, he became a popular and well-respected artist, and regularly exhibited his work to high acclaim. “There is not likely to be another fellow who will have the opportunity to study big game as you are doing,” Frederic Remington wrote him admiringly, “and I think records of us fellows who are doing the ‘Old America’ which is so fast passing will have an audience in posterity.”
In 1910, responding to another invitation, Rungius visited the Canadian Rockies near Banff, Alberta, and immediately fell in love with the region. He built a studio there in 1921, naming it “The Paintbox,” and returned to work nearly every summer until his death. An outdoorsman completely in love with nature, he frequently stayed away from both homes for weeks at a time. For over fifty years he stalked moose, caribou and the ferocious grizzly bear, as well as mountain sheep, goats, elk, deer and antelope. Bighorn sheep, which he thought “our finest game animal,” became his favorite quarry in these mountains.
Rungius was a great naturalist, a fine draftsman and an anatomist with thorough knowledge of musculature and bone structure. In many of his paintings he achieved the feeling of rotating movement so common to animals in a herd. He generally favored a dramatic mountain setting for his landscapes, where steep and craggy slopes fell away to misty depths, and high, sharp peaks loomed against deep blue skies. Here the assured brushstrokes of the foreground rocks suggest the richness of the plant life that clings to them. This was the splendor that Rungius immortalized in paint. His work today is a valuable record of the animals and their environment at that particular place and time. He painted directly from nature and captured the very essence of his subject matter.
Rungius received many honors and prizes and was elected Associate of the National Academy in 1913 and National Academician in 1920. One of his admirers was Theodore Roosevelt, who was also a personal friend. Roosevelt owned a moose done in bronze by Rungius and several of his paintings. Considering the purchase of one, Roosevelt said, “This is the most spirited animal painting I have ever seen. I’ll take it.”
Reference: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, edited by Dr. Rick Stewart, AskArt.com