Christian KrohgChristian Krohg was committed to justice and freedom of expression, and was one of the great Norwegian realist painters. He painted the working class in Kristiania in the 19th century with compassion and a desire for change.
He had to follow in his father's footsteps and become a lawyer, but wanted to be an artist. After his law studies in Kristiania, he traveled to the art academy in Karlsruhe to receive an art education. While many of the Norwegian art students traveled to Munich for further studies, Krohg followed his teacher Gussow to Berlin. The stay in the big city awakened Krohg's social commitment, which he retained for the rest of his life.
Krohg was also influenced by Skagen, a small village in Denmark that attracted many artists. While most of the artists painted the landscape and the light, Krohg chose to paint the people who lived there and their simple lives. He became particularly close to the Gaihede family and painted many motifs depicting their everyday life. Krohg returned to Skagen on several occasions.
Among Krohg's earliest socially engaged motifs were depictions of the sypik who had fallen asleep while working. He also painted several scenes from Albertine's life, based on stories he had heard and people he had met.
In the early 1880s, a group of young artists, writers and intellectuals gathered in cafes in the capital, Kristiania. They were in rebellion against the prevailing social structure and discussed moral issues, sex, drugs and free love. Krohg and Hans Jæger were leaders in the "Kristiania bohemian", and they were active in the press and wrote poems and novels. They also started the newspaper Impressionisten. Krohg later married Oda Engelhart, who was part of this circle.
Krohg had a large production and a wide-ranging selection of motifs. He was particularly known for his portraits, and his ability to characterize meant that he received many portrait commissions. From 1901 to 1909, Krohg lived mainly in Paris, where he taught at the Académie Colarossi. Here he was influenced by new currents, and his precise and realistic style changed to more dissolved forms and loose brushstrokes. The artist model also became more central to his work.
When Norway's first art academy opened in 1909, Krohg became its first director and professor, a position he held until his death in 1925.