Konstanty Kukiewicz (1818–1840) is a relatively little-known artist, owing to the small size of his surviving oeuvre. Paintings by him are especially rare. The painting Asking for directions shows that this Vilnius-born artist was very gifted, but his early death cut short the development and blossoming of his art. He is even praised for his talent on his tombstone in the Bernardine Cemetery in Vilnius. This painting was created during his studies at the St Petersburg Art Academy. After Vilnius University was closed down in 1832, many young men who had a talent for art travelled to St Petersburg to study. Kukiewicz studied under the famous Alexander Sauerwied (1783–1844) from Courland, who was known for his vast battle scenes and numerous works showing the Russian army and its uniforms in the early 19th century. During his studies in Vilnius under Jan Rustem, Kukiewicz showed a predilection for genre painting, and in St Petersburg he became fascinated by the everyday scenes of military life by his teacher. His works frequently won prizes at exhibitions at the St Petersburg Art Academy. The painting Asking for directions shows three cavalry officers in the times of Nicholas I who have stopped at a well to refresh themselves and water their horses, and talk to a passer-by with a dog. The colours of their uniforms, and the insignia on their caps and their saddles, indicate that they are members of His Majesty’s Regiment of Life Guards. The peaceful composition of the painting creates a bright mood, although the figures of the soldiers at a crossroads in a poor village are not without a sense of tension or a premonition of danger. Text author Rūta Janonienė.


  • Title: Asking for Directions
  • Creator: Konstanty Kukiewicz
  • Date Created: 1837
  • Physical Dimensions: 30cm x 36cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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