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Kitty Lange Kielland (Norwegian painter) 1843 - 1914

Christine Lange Kielland, known as Kitty Kielland, born 8 October 1843 and died 1 October 1914, was a Norwegian landscape painter and a brief participant in the early woman’s rights movement. The sister of Alexander Kielland, Kitty Kielland would be influenced by her relationship with her brother in her paintings. Unlike many painters of the 19th century, Kielland was a woman and was not allowed to begin serious training as a painter until she was thirty-years old. This was due in part to the expectations held then that women did not paint professionally. She had been given brief lessons in her youth for drawing and rudimentary paintings, but nothing serious. In 1873, she was able to travel to Karlsruhe in order to train with Hans Gude. Because she was a woman, she was unable to train in the studio with his other male pupils and so had to take private lessons. It was from Gude that Kielland received her lasting adherence to realism that would be visible in all of her landscapes. Kielland studied under Grude for two years, and during that time she excelled at painting landscapes as she was an apt pupil. Some of Kielland’s dedication and determination may have stemmed from the restrictions placed on her as a woman. If she had not been able to succeed at Gude, it is not likely that she would have been able to go on and study under other masters, nor would she have been able to exhibit her landscapes in Paris. After her time studying under Gude was finished, Kielland went to study under Hermann Baisch in Munich, a French-inspired realist in 1875. While there, she lived in a colony of Norwegian artists. She also studied under Eilif Peterssen, who, it has been suggested, was Kielland’s most influential teacher. Kielland remained in Munich until 1878. While in living Munich, Kielland traveled to Jæren in 1876 for a brief visit. She was impressed with the flat landscape and returned often in the summers as she worked to create a landscape of the flatlands. Kielland found the flatlands inspiring and her paintings of Jaeren are realistic, but maintain an atmospheric unity that highlights the beauty of the peat bogs and the distant mountainous landscapes. It was in 1879 that Kielland moved to Paris and there she exhibited her landscapes for the first time in her life. It was there that she also studied under Leon Germain Pelouse for a very brief time. After this, she worked under a few other masters as she continued to paint for several more years. She became involved with the woman’s suffrage movement. However, later in her life, she did not paint much. When she died in 1914, for several years, she had been suffering from senile dementia. Despite her relatively short period painting, Kielland was able to do what many women were unable to do in their lifetimes as she found a way to express her creativity and overcome the overwhelming influence of society. 

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