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Russian Prisoner of War, c. 1916

Leopold Museum,
Oil on cardboard
46.4×38.5 cm


  • Anton Kolig

    (Neutitschein/Nový Jičín 1886–1950 Nötsch im Gailtal)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
Although Anton Kolig (1886–1950) only became an official war painter in August 1917, but he had already spent the autumn of 1916 with the art troop of the 59th Mountain Brigade in Carinthia. He knew that his themes, apart from portraits, were not well-suited to making propaganda for the war. But in the hope of hitting upon suitable motifs he filled “a sketchbook full of drawings of soldier models.” It was clear to him that even this was not to the liking of his superior officers: “Each of the gentlemen wants something different, but none of them wants art,” was how he summed it up. Finally, in the camp for Serbian prisoners of war in Villach, he found motifs that inspired him. The result was a series of different types of prisoners and spontaneous portraits that testify to Kolig’s great assurance as a painter. The Serbian prisoner of war, melancholic and with a broken self-esteem, seems to avoid eye contact with the painter. Kolig focuses entirely on his face, indicating the background and uniform with only a few lines. It is notable that Kolig’s portraits of prisoners convey more emotions than those of Austrian soldiers and officers, who are mostly portrayed with a neutral tone.

Object data

Russian Prisoner of War
c. 1916
Art movement
Expressionism, Nötsch Circle
Oil on cardboard
46.4×38.5 cm
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 182
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Anton Kolig, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Köln 2017 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 22.09.2017-08.01.2018).
  • Otmar Rychlik: Anton Kolig 1886-1950. Das malerische Werk, Wien 2001.
Catalogue raisonne
  • Rychlik 2001: 89

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Nachlass Anton Kolig, Nötsch (1950)
Katharina Kolig, Nötsch (ab 1950-1971); (1)
Antoinette Steiger, Spittal an der Drau (ab 1971); (2)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (vor 1981-1994); (3)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Archiv des Leopold Museums, E-Mail von Cornelius Kolig an Dr. Franz Smola (LMPS) vom 27.02.2017
  2. Mündliche Auskunft von Dr. Rudolf Leopold an Dr. Patricia Spiegelfeld (LMPS) vom 06.11.2003
  3. Archiv des Leopold Museums, Schreiben der Kärntner Landesgalerie an Dr. Rudolf Leopold vom 04.03.1981 (dort bezeichnet als „Kopf eines Soldaten“)

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