Achim Von Arnim-Bärwalde, Borzoi

Achim Von Arnim-Bärwalde, Borzoi

This exquisite 19th-century oil painting by German artist Achim Von Arnim-Bärwalde (1848-1891) depicts a borzoi proudly standing within a dark interior. It’s a wonderful study that seems to capture the creature’s loyalty, alertness and gentle demeanour.

Von Arnim-Bärwalde is predominantly known for history paintings, particularly those based upon English subjects. He was born into a noble family and the first grandson of Bettina and Achim von Arnim. His grandparents were the most important poets of the German Romanticism movement and moved within distinguished circles. Bettina von Arnim was close friends with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, recognised as the most influential German writer in history, along with Beethoven and several other eminent composers.

Prior to becoming an artist, Von Arnim-Bärwalde undertook various pursuits, including studying law. But in 1871, at the age of 23, he decided to follow his true calling. In a letter to his mother, he wrote:

“I am starting to tell you, my sweet mother, what you may have suspected for a long time, that I have finally made the choice of my life’s profession — that I want to be a painter! The thought has lived in me for a long time but I used to always suppress it, I thought it was impossible, yes, to tell the truth, too beautiful to ever become true ... If I before the good Lord before my conscience and you, my dear, good mother, the rest is all the same to me. I wrote you everything I could think of from the bottom of my heart. You will understand. Your faithful son Achim." He went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.

At age 28, following the death of his father, the young artist inherited the Wiepersdorf Castle estate. An impressive manor house and grounds. Imbued with artistic flair, he set about extending it and adding a touch of Italianate decoration. The resulting renovation also included a new studio, from which he worked.

And clearly not lacking confidence in his abilities, he also painted the ceilings and walls, and a self-portrait for the door of his studio. The gardens, too, were enhanced with Greek and Roman statues acquired during trips to Italy.

From this point on, he continued to grow as an artist, exhibiting in Berlin and Düsseldorf. But perhaps it’s Wiepersdorf Castle that remains the best example of his passion for the arts.

Much has been written about Von Arnim-Bärwalde and this fine study of a Borzoi is a rare example of his work. It provides a window into the life of this fascinating character and is worthy of a public collection.

Signed in the top left and framed.

Medium: Oil on panel
Overall size: 16” x 13½” / 40cm x 34cm
Year of creation: c. 1870
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.

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