CORNELIUS KRIEGHOFF: THE PAINTER OF CANADIAN LIFE
By M.O. Hammond - This image is available from the Archives of Ontario, Public Domain, Link
Depicting the French-Canadian life and Canadian landscapes in a detailed, romanticized and anecdotal style, the Dutch-Canadian painter, Cornelius Krieghoff, is celebrated as the finest Canadian artist to describe the Quebec life in the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the most well-known and sought after artist in his own life time, Krieghoff was born on June 19, 1815, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. An immigrant to North America, he spent the better part of his youth in Bavaria, Germany. In 1837, he sailed for North America, where he joined the U.S. Army and was subsequently assigned for service in the Seminole Wars in Florida.
In 1840, Krieghoff was discharged from the army and went north, relocating to Montreal area, specifically to Boucherville on the south shore. There he married a Francophone, Emilie Gauthier. In 1845, he was studying art in Paris and improving his ability by copying works of both historical and contemporary masters in the Louvre and Luxembourg Museums.
From 1846, Krieghoff was active in Montreal area, after which he moved to Quebec City, where he enjoyed considerable success selling his genre paintings of the Canadian and of the local autochtone. He was highly accomplished as an artist. His paintings of autochtones are compositionally consistent; painted with a masterful ability and often interpreting the autochtones respectful and harmonious relationship with their land.
From 1863, Krieghoff spent about six years in Europe, briefly returning to Quebec in 1870 before moving to Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. He was not only one of the premiere artists of his generation but also likely the most successful as an entrepreneur and cultivated clients among Quebec society, including the British soldiers.
Krieghoff died in Chicago on March 8, 1872 at the age of 56 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.
Krieghoff paintings are represented in all major museums in Canada.