Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski began his artistic training at the Warsaw School of Drawing in 1868 and continued to study drawing in Dresden and Prague. Around 1873 he traveled to Munich to study at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste and in the private studio of Josef von Brandt. Kowalski thrived in the Munich artistic community and settled there while remaining active in Polish art affairs. Kowalski occasionally returned to Poland to make sketches for his paintings and in 1897 he purchased the estate, Mikorzyn, near Konin.
Kowalski was known as the painter of figures in snow par excellence and painted many variations on this theme. 'In his limitless snow-covered plains, wolf-hounded sleighs dash at twilight towards the comfort and refuge of far-seen villages.' (B. Matsai, Nineteenth Century Polish Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1944, p. 10). Waiting for their Master is a superb example of Kowalski's twilight winter paintings. He captures all the atmosphere of his subject; an untouched winter landscape with a brilliant afternoon light in the distance, marking the end of a long day for the driver, his horses and the dogs from the manor.
During Kowalski's lifetime, Poland was partitioned between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Despite the absence of a formal Polish state, artists retained their national identities and strove to assert their cultural identity through art and painting. There is a subtle complexity to Polish paintings that comes from the force and power with which they were painted. Polish paintings were not only created to display scenes of beauty but also to preserve the Polish cultural heritage.
Waiting for their Master was owned initially by James Walker Yelverton (1869-1950), an American politician who started his career as a Treasurer of Schenectady County. He was then elected to the New York State Senate, where he served for three years. The painting has descended within his family and is offered at auction for the first time.