Photo credit: Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Can anyone offer or suggest any information about this painting in the Science Museum's collection. It has been dated as 1895, although it is not clear where this comes from as the artist is unknown and there appears to be no date on the picture.
Where is the 'Industrial Ironworks' of the title: is it a specific location or a generalised view, possibly even a modern painting made for a book cover or a museum display, showing a 'typical' 1890s industrial scene but painted up to a century later? Is the scene British? The steam locomotive on the right looks more like a European design. Could this be a scene in northern France or Belgium?
There are various women workers in the scene including one who miraculously appears to be pushing a tipper truck on her own to the left. Is this realistic? Even the famous pit brow lasses of Wigan didn't do that. Stylistically the painting doesn't have a late nineteenth-century feel about it, more of a modern recreation in the style of the Ladybird book illustrations c.1970. So is it just retro, or a genuine period piece?
The collection note: 'The Science Museum acquired this painting at auction in 1994 and the research carried out at that time records that the oil is signed indistinctly and has been deciphered to read "Eduaiï rd Kregczy" and it is also dated 1895. No information could be found on this artist at that time. Prior to purchase the locomotive was identified by our colleagues at the National Railway Museum (by style and name of locomotive) as being Hungarian. This does mean that we could potentially attribute this to Edmund Kregczy (1855–1916), born Olmütz. Though no authoritative reference has yet been found providing more information about the artist, Olmütz is known today as Olomouc, Czech Republic. This sits well with other information as Czech Republic is adjacent to Hungary and Austria.'
I think the inscription on the lower right part of the painting reads “Edmund Kregczy” followed by some more unreadable text. There also is a date below the signature, which looks like 1895.
In March 1899, Kregczy exhibited a painting called ‘Skizze eines Steinkohlenwerkes’ (~’Sketch of a stone coal facility/plant’) in Vienna. A contemporary newspaper article about this exhibition mentions it as the no. 10 in the exhibition.
I wonder whether this painting could be called a 'sketch', but maybe there is a label on the back of the painting which refers to this exhibition?
I attach a close up of the signature and the article (it was published in Deutsches Volksblatt, March 5th, 1899).
Finding little to add, except for some biographical data:
Josef Kregzcy (1811-1896)
Rosa Zwierina (1822-1894)
Camilla Kregzcy (?-?)
Edmund Kregzcy (16 February 1855-10 August 1916)
Rosa Francisca Kregzcy (1865-1931)
"Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:SRQD-816 : accessed 2015-04-28), entry for Edmund /Kregczy/.
The following lot picked up on Invaluable site adds his master:
Lot 230: sale of 19th Century Paintings & Watercolours by Dorotheum, October 22, 2004 Vienna, Austria: Edmund Kregczy (1855-1916)
Description: (born Olmütz 1855, active in Vienna, pupil of Rumpler) Washerwoman in a Stream, signed and dated Edm. Kregczy 1897, Oil on canvas, 63 x 46 cm, framed
Biographical summary for Franz Rumpler can be found here, if someone can translate it:
A brief biographical summary in English here:
Via Google eBooks
Title Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, Volume 4
Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, John Denison Champlin
Editors John Denison Champlin, Charles Callahan Perkins
Publisher Scribner, 1913
When I searched for industrielle eisenhütte Olmütz, I found this 1897 image of the Fürsterzbistums Ironworks in Olmutz. It is difficult to correlate the image with your painting, but the scale of operations is similar, especially when compared to the Vítkovice Ironworks in Ostrava.
You may not be aware of the dramatic shift in the economy of Moravia during this period. "The shift to the Gilchrist-Thomas process and low-grade Bohemian ore also made a great shift in the importance of the regions. In 1878 Bohemia and Moravia still only made 23 percent of Austro-Hungarian pig iron; in 1897 they made 57 percent of the much larger quantity manufactured and this proportion was slightly increased by 1913." Edmund Kregczy may have been a witness to the great economic change in his homeland.
Title The Development of the Economies of Continental Europe: 1850-1914
Authors Alan Milward, S. B. Saul
Editor S. B. Saul
Publisher Routledge, 2011
ISBN 0415616131, 9780415616133
Length 556 pages
I got in touch with a direct descendent of Edmund Kregczy who kindly provided information about Kregczy’s family and also offered to take photos of another painting of Kregczy in his possession so that we can compare signatures. He also thinks that the man in the foreground of the painting might be identifiable; he will have a look in his family’s archive and I will post updates when I get them.
Furthermore: Edmund Kregczy’s family owned several coalmines in Mährisch-Ostrau (today Ostrava), known under his mother’s maiden name ‘Zwierzina’. I have not yet found fully reliable information about these mines, but the two paintings in the attachment very likely show the same mine as in the above painting, which probably is the so called ‘Josef II’ mine located in Ostrava.
Well done, Ms. Kollman!
That's very impressive: it will be interesting to see a bit more about him in due course.
Finding reliable sources and information about this painting took a good bit longer than I had expected. I summarized my findings (plus sources and illustrations) in the attached pdf, but in short this is what I found out:
The painting shows the Josef-mine owned by the Zwierzina family in Mährisch-Ostrau, today Ostrava, Czech Republic. It was painted in or around 1895 by the local artist Edmund Kregczy, whose mother, Rosa Zwierzina, was one of the owners of the mining company.
At the time the painting was made, the company employed around 340 workers, among them 28 women, who worked above ground and whose tasks are shown in the painting. Also shown in the painting is a part of the 1.2 km long railway tracks running from the Josef-mine to the ‘Kaiser Ferdinand Nordbahn’, which connected the coal mines in Moravia and Silesia with the industrial centers of the time.
Edmund Kregczy exhibited two paintings of his family’s coal mines in a charity event (to raise money for the clothing of poor miners’ children) in Ostrava in 1895 and again showed one of these two paintings in an exhibition in Vienna in 1899. I am pretty sure, that one of these two paintings must have been the one in the Science Museum. It would be interesting though, whether there is anything on the back of the canvas to support this assumption.
Edmund Kregczy was born in Olmütz (today Olomouc, CZ) on 16th February 1855 and died in Vienna, Austria (10th August 1916). He studied at the Wiener Akademie (under Hugh Charlemont and Franz Rumpler) and at the Münchner Akademie (under Nikolaus Gysis), painted portraits and landscapes, nudes as well as religious subjects (I attach an illustrated newspaper article published in 1913 which shows some examples of his works). According to ‘Biographien der Wiener Künstler und Schriftsteller’ a lot of his paintings were exhibited, among others in Vienna, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin and Breslau. He seems to have enjoyed some success as a painter in his lifetime. Several of his exhibitions in Vienna were mentioned in contemporary newspapers. In 1899, his solo exhibition was visited by the Emperor’s brother, arch-duke Ludwig Viktor. The earliest reference I found about his work as a professional artist dates to 1882, when he submitted a painting to an exhibition in the Künstlerhaus in Vienna. Edmund Kregczy was married and had at least one child, his daughter Maria (1900-1987).
On a personal note, I would like to thank the team of the archive of the City of Ostrava for their support and a descendent of the Zwierzina/Kregczy family for interesting discussions and information.