Thursday, 18 June 2015


CORNELIUS DAVID KRIEGHOFF (June 19, 1815 – April 8, 1872)

A 19th Century painter, Krieghoff is most known for painting Canadian landscapes and outdoor scenes. His work was as popular in his own time as it is today. Many paintings show first nation peoples and settlers in their every day lives. He was particularly noted for wintery scenes which were made into popular prints.

Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, Holland. The young Cornelius received his first art lessons from his father and when he showed aptitude he enrolled into the German Academy of Fine Arts in about 1830.

Krieghoff traveled extensively: In 1836  he moved to New York and served in the United States Army. Then he moved to Paris in 1844, where he copied masterpieces at the Louvre under the direction of Michel Martin Drolling. 1846 found him living in Montreal, Canada and in 1847 he was invited to show in the Toronto Society of Arts first exhibition. By 1853 he had moved to Quebec City, then on to Italy and Germany and back to Canada in 1855. He lived in Europe again from 1863 to 1868, finally settling in Chicago, where he died on March 8, 1872 at the young age of 56.

Many of Krieghoffs sketches, passed to John S. Budden, who lived with the artist for thirteen years, but sadly, on June 8, 1881, they were destroyed in the Great Quebec Fire.

Luckily most of his oil paintings survived and offer a poignant view of life in that era. The romanticized vignettes of Canadian life in the mid 19th Century have largely fallen out of favour since the advent of the pop culture. It is easy to dismiss his work on first glance, but that is a shame, because he was a masterful landscape painter. There is a lot to be learned from studying his use of colour and composition. His skies were particularly beautiful with soft gradations and luminous cloudscapes. Take a second look and you'll be amazed.