Conradijn Cunaeus ( Dendermonde 1828-1895 Nieuwer-Amstel ), Two friends.
Oil on canvas cm 100 x 118 signed lower right.
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The dogs, of all breeds, are reproduced by Conradijn Cunaeus, who trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam ( 1844-49 ) under the guidance of Dutch portraitist and landscape painter Nicolas Pieneman – the first to encourage his study of hunting scenes – in masterful form so as to make with singular naturalness and vivacity, all the elegant movements of the faithful animal friend.
Cunaeus, known especially for his portraits of four-legged friends, member, since 1850, of the prestigious association “Arts et Amicitiae”of Dutch artists gathered in Amsterdam, resumes a kind of iconography, that of the dog, which, since the man’s first artistic manifestations, has occupied a prominent place in the subjects chosen from time to time by the artists of all time: if in the distant past it was a symbol of marital fidelity at the foot of the deceased queens – allegorical meaning remained in place until the 15th century as testified by the beautiful tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, made by Jacopo della Quercia – pet or hunting animals in the 16th century – as evidenced by the painting “The Two Venetian ladies” by the painter Vittore Carpaccio – in the 19th century, the dog assumes a more and more affectionate connotation in a domestic dimension, sometimes portraited next to men belonging to the high European bourgeoisie, or the same painters, as evidenced by the portrait of Giuseppe Abbati, made in 1865 by Giovanni Boldini.
In the painting presented here entitled “The two friends” – another painting with a similar name, made by Cunaeus, is preserved at the Amsterdam Museum, an institution that counts in its collections some of his most successful portraits of dogs – the Dutch painter’s artistic research is revealed characterized by a deep knowledge of anatomy and four footed’s character, immortalized by a delicate palette, soft, in a funny scene where the parasol becomes contentious issue, caught between the jaws of two small dogs that, in the excitement of the game, just toppled to the ground a wicker basket, filled with roses, distributed now, scattered on the floor in the foreground. The canvas, with a large format, is a proof of superb observation, acute, penetrating and highly refined technique of the Dutch painter.
Today, paintings by Conradyn Cunaeus are kept in many private and public collections: among the latter, in the Museum of Termonde and the Amsterdam Museum in Holland.