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Dreamy Theodor Kittelsen

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 5:08 AM

As I've previously promised, after the articles about Sulamith Wülfing and about John Bauer, the time comes for an article about Theodor Kittelsen.


Kittelsen selfportrait by STelariKittelsen 18 by STelari

Generally...

...Theodor Severin Kittelsen, being a great representant of the Golden Age of Illustration, is one of the countless artists who received more attention and appreciation a long time after their death. I don't say "proper attention", it's still far from it. 

His depictions of Scandinavian folklore creatures are said to be equally cannon to the trolls portrayed by the definitely more famous John Bauer. But, unlike Bauer, Kittelsen didn't focus just around trolls (which are, you must admit that, most of Bauer's creations - although his sudden death at young age is probably the cause). 

Despite from what wikipedia says, from all the mythological creatures he painted, Kittelsen seems to be especially fond of nøkken (see the picture next to his selfportrait above and the ones including pale white horses), which is one of my most beloved creatures, too, actually. Every time I stumble upon a gallery with Kittelsen's illustrations, I can't miss the fact that the most recurrent theme in his pictures is the mentioned monster.

I'm afraid that you'll start noticing this from now, too. Sorry.

Kittelsen 21 by STelariKittelsen 24 by STelari
Kittelsen 19 by STelari

Early life

Theodor Severin Kittelsen was born on the 27th of April, 1857, in  a coastal town of Kragerø, Norway. He was one of the eight children and when the father died very early, Kittelsen's mother was put in a really hard and complicated situation. 

At the age of 11, Theodor started working for the local watchmaker, which was obviously partly caused by the circumstances after his father's death, but it was nothing unusual to see children working, even very hard, in the 19th century. Six years later a chance for a lighter life appeared: his manual talent was noticed and 17-years-old Kittelsen started attending to Wilhelm von Hanno's drawing school in Olso (which was called Christiania back then).

The man who discovered Theodor's talent, Diderich Aall, supported Kittelsen all the time. This helped the young artist to start studies in Munich. However, after 1878 the financial support ended and Kittelsen had to earn money on his own, so he started working as a draftsman for some German newspapers.

Kittelsen 20 by STelariKittelsen 10 by STelari
Kittelsen 09 by STelariKittelsen 07 by STelariKittelsen 05 by STelari

And later

From 1882 to 1887 Kittelsen studied in Paris and after that he returned to Norway for good. At that stage, nature became a great source of inspiration for him - and no wonder, since he spent over 2 years in Lofoten (archipelago in the county of Nordland, see the 3rd picture in the last row in this article). He lived in the Skomvær Lighthouse, where his sister and brother-in-law worked and that's where Kittelsen started writting short stories for his paintings.

In 1889 he married Inga Dahl and moved to Skåtøy island, which was close to Kragerø, and later they settled in Hvisten around 1899. Their new home, along with artist studio, was called Lauvlia. Kittelsen spent his artistic golden age there, illustrating Norske Folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folktales) from  Jørgen Moe and Peter Christen Asbjørnsen.

At the age of 51, Theodor was made Knight of the The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, but it was the last such bright event in his life. Two years later, when his health was getting worse and worse, he was forced to sell Lauvlia. He moved to Jeløy island and spent the rest of his life there. He died on the 21st of January, 1914, 3 months before his 57th birthday.

Kittelsen 22 by STelari

And much later...

Currently, Theodor Kittelsen is considered as one of the most famous Norwegian artists... mostly in Norway. His works became a great inspiration for later artists, including the already mentioned Sulamith Wülfing. His paintings can be found as covers of some music albums, for example the ones from Burzum (I've included two of them in this article).

His beloved home and studio, Lauvlia, was transformed into a private museum, where you can see a lot of his illustrations, but also other pieces made by Kittelsen, as Lauvlia is decorated by his own murals and woodcarvings.

Kittelsen 02 by STelariKittelsen 04 by STelariKittelsen 12 by STelariKittelsen 01 by STelari
Kittelsen 03 by STelariKittelsen 06 by STelariKittelsen 08 by STelari
Kittelsen 11 by STelariKittelsen 14 by STelariKittelsen 15 by STelariKittelsen 16 by STelari

Source of images: wikipedia commons, scans from my private collection


Add a Comment:
 
:iconhan-wik:
Han-Wik Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
He has always been one of my foremost sources of inspiration, and my first choice whenever I've been in need of some illustrative guidance. Thank you for featuring him!
I don't know what I love the most about his work; the atmosphere, the textures, the compositions  or the mix between detail and simplicity. 
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I couldn't agree more on that.
Reply
:iconangelles-laveau:
Angelles-LaVeau Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I absolutely LOVE that you do these!! Thank you so much!!
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm glad to hear that! (:
Reply
:icondarkallegiance666:
darkallegiance666 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012
Featured - [link]
Reply
:iconmarkrhansen:
MarkRHansen Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for sharing this! Kittelsen really does deserve wider recognition of his work.
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed!
Reply
:icontrollgirl:
TrollGirl Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I like him. He's one of our rare representators =]
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed :nod:
Reply
:iconsrudy:
SRudy Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Lovely article and artworks :love:
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
:iconweaselplz:
Reply
:icondarkallegiance666:
darkallegiance666 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012
I love Theodor Kittelsen's work. I've included some of his paintings in my videos on Youtube in the past. My eldest son first brought him to my attention. Thanks for uploading this feature on such an excellent artist.
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I love his works, too! He's one of my most beloved artists of all the time.
Reply
:iconkaelycea:
Kaelycea Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012   Traditional Artist
Nice to see a feature on him. I've been a fan of his works for a while now, and was partly influenced by him for some recent watercolours. I love the misty atmosphere he gives to much of his work.
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
He should be definitely better recognised, glad to see someone else who have heard of him.
Reply
:iconotherra:
Otherra Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012   Traditional Artist
I did not know this artist, thank you for this article =)
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Good to know my knowledge spreading works (:
Reply
:iconemeliajane:
EmeliaJane Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This is absolutely stunning! Well done, dear <3
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks, dear :aww:
Reply
:iconbear48:
bear48 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional
thank you

this was wondeful
Reply
:iconerozja:
Erozja Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012
Piękne. :clap:
Reply
:iconnoctiluna:
NoctiLuna Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I always loved the Burzum cover pic, but I never went and looked up the artist. A shame! As I see now, he made many more stunning artworks!
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed :nod: I had a similiar situation - I've heard the albums, but I haven't seen the covers until I read about that Kittelsen's pictures were used for them.
Reply
:iconwicked-fairytale:
wicked-fairytale Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Great article on Kittelsen. I'm a big fan of his work, especially the misty feel it all has.

His work was a great inspiration for me on one of my latest projects, a calendar based on Scandinavian folklore (mainly with focus on trolls too). I also did an illustration of 'Nøkken' for it, inspired by Kittelsen's work: [link]
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I remember this artwork, I featured it in my group, if I remember well (: It's a very nice one.
Reply
:iconwicked-fairytale:
wicked-fairytale Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you, that's very kind of you! :)
Reply
:iconvittoriaottilia:
VittoriaOttilia Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012
Oh Kittelsen, I've been waiting for your presence in this journal entry :love:
your journals are awesome, really :hug:
I already saw his wonderful masterpieces round the web, and seeing them again on this website makes me extremely happy :heart:
Kittelsen's works and Burzum's albums are exceptionally fantastic to see and appreciate.
I wish I could go to Lauvlia one day, later in my life.
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I want to move to Norway once, so I'll definitely visit Lauvlia, too (: Thank you! :hug:
Reply
:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Fascinating article about a great artist. The artwork you included is so moving. I really appreciate you doing these! Thank you! :rose:
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I love writting these articles, so I'm glad that there are people who enjoy reading them (:
Reply
:iconknechter:
Knechter Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012
really really great artist!!!
Reply
:iconruu-the-dasher:
Ruu-the-Dasher Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Whoa, his work is stunning!! I quite like his style!!
Reply
:iconstelari:
STelari Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed, these are stunning :nod:
Reply
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