Ferdinand Von Rayski, a Golden pheasant. Germany, circa 1826 © 2012 MALLETT ANTIQUES

A naturalistically rendered watercolour of a golden pheasant. Signed and dated. 

Rayski was born in 1806 in Pegau. From the age of ten he studied drawing under Traugott Faber at the Freimaurerinstitut in Dresden and from 1823 to 1825 studied at Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts) in Dusseldorf. After quitting his military career, he began to work as a professional artist in 1829, painting portraits of his noble relatives in Hannover and Silesia.

From 1831 to 1834 he lived in Dresden, where he received numerous portrait commissions. He then travelled to Paris in 1834-35, and was influenced by paintings of the French Romantic style such as the works of Delacroix, Géricault and Gros. These influences helped to develop his style to an artistic realism.

From 1836 until 1839 he made portraits in Trier, Frankfurt and especially for noble customers in Franconia. He lived in Dresden from 1840 until his death in 1890 but most of the time he travelled around spending his time with acquainted noble families or relatives. His main sponsors had been the aristocratic families von Einsiedel and von Schönberg, for whom he painted portraits, landscapes, animals, historical or hunting scenes.

During the years of the bourgeois revolution, 1848-50, he stayed mainly at the castle Bieberstein near to Freiberg/Saxony. In 1857, he travelled around Bohemia and visited Prague and Marienbad. In 1862, he accompanied Kurt von Einsiedel on a journey through England for several weeks.

After 1834, his works never appeared on the art market or at exhibitions and therefore he did not become popular during his lifetime. In 1906 he was recognised by the public when twenty of his works were shown at the centennial exhibition of the Berlin National Gallery. Today he is regarded as an important portrait painter and as a representative of realism in visual arts and even as a forerunner of German Impressionism. Rayski gained a reputation as a distinguished portrait painter, but also produced animal and hunting scenes, as well as, yet less frequently, military, historical and mythological paintings. Helmut Börsch-Supan wrote of the young Ferdinand von Rayski, “When he appeared in 1830, seemingly from nowhere, already replete with all the talents of a gifted portraitist, no one in Dresden could compare to him.” In retrospect it is clear that his oeuvre had a major impact on German 19th century painting. http://www.mallettantiques.com