Kitty KiellandKitty Lange Kielland was a Norwegian landscape painter. She was a naturalist painter and was concerned that art should portray life and truth. Kielland was the first to paint the peculiar beauty of the Jærlandscape; in the areas around Ogna and Time, she depicted the coastal country's sandy stretches and desolate marshes. A fine example is Torvmyr from 1880 - a picture that shows her interest in atmosphere and atmosphere in her landscape depictions. She also pioneered the lyrically emphasized mood painting of the 1880s, with summer evening motifs such as After Sunset (1885, Slottet i Oslo) and Summer Night (1886, National Museum/National Gallery in Oslo). She has also painted some still lifes and interiors.
Alongside her artistic practice, she was also a committed writer who authored several articles on art. In 1884, she helped to found the Norwegian Women's Association, and she wrote many debate articles in newspapers and magazines that raised questions about women's emancipation.
Kitty Kielland was born and raised in Stavanger. She was the sister of the author Alexander Kielland and took an early interest in drawing and painting. She met the painter Hans Gude when he visited his family in Stavanger in 1872, and the following year she became his pupil in Karlsruhe. As a woman, she did not have access to the academy and instead received private lessons from Gude. Her landscape pictures from this time are clearly inspired by Gude with a foreground with detailed plants and preferably kept in a brownish tone. A fine example is the study Morning in Bjerkreim from 1874, with a young shepherd sitting on a stone fence and silhouetted against the bright sky behind.
In 1875 she left Karlsruhe in favor of Munich, which now established itself as the new art center for the Norwegian art students in Germany. The painters Harriet Backer, Asta Nørregaard, Benedicte Scheel, Hans Heyerdahl, Erik Werenskiold, Gerhard Munthe, Christian Skredsvig and Theodor Kittelsen also came here. Kielland shared accommodation with Harriet Backer, and the two young women had to take private lessons also in Munich, as the academy was reserved for men. Kielland was proofread by Eilif Peterssen and by the German landscape and animal painter Hermann Baisch. She often spent the summers in Norway, and as early as 1876 she drew and painted studies on Jæren. They resulted in her first Jærlandskap, Landscape from Jæren from 1877, painted the following winter in Munich.
Inspired by French plein air painting, Kielland traveled to Paris in the spring of 1879. She also lived here with her friend Harriet Backer. In 1880, Kielland became a pupil of the landscape painter Léon Germain Pelouse, after having seen his open-air pictures at the Salon the year before. Influenced by his way of portraying landscapes, Kielland changed his own painterly style. She now painted in short, pasty strokes, with clear colours. The result is images where the surface vibrates with life. A fine example is Flowering Tree in Cernay-la-Ville from 1880. In the summer of 1881, she painted together with Pelouse in Brittany, a stay that became important for her development as a plein air painter.
In Paris, Kielland practiced his drawing skills by drawing from models at the Académie Julian and at the Académie Colarossi. She was Pelouse's pupil until the mid-1880s. Then her apprenticeship was over. Together with Harriet Backer, she lived in Paris until 1889, when she returned home to Kristiania (Oslo).
The lamb's painter
Torvmyr from 1880 with a motif from Jæren
By Kitty Kielland.
License: Limited reuse
The elk, and the peat bogs there, was the motif Kielland kept coming back to. She drew and painted studies at Jæren from 1874, and her artistic breakthrough came with pictures from here. In the summer of 1878, she had painted studies at Ogna on Jæren, and two of these she had processed into paintings which were exhibited at the Salon in Paris the following year. The following year she also commissioned two pictures, including the magnificent Torvmyr from 1880, where she lets the sky fill two-thirds of the picture surface on the square canvas. In the dark foreground we can make out stacks of peat, peat left to dry so that it can later be used for fuel. The dark cumulus clouds, with sunlight barely breaking through the cloud layer in the background, create a grand and melancholic mood.
The oil study Torvmyr (1882, National Museum) and the painting Torvmyr (1883, private property) show the influence of Pelouse, with brighter colors in dense strokes. Both images are given in height format, which means that the high sky with the rain-heavy clouds towers powerfully over the peat bogs on Jæren. Kielland probably got this impression of the high sky towering over a narrower strip of landscape from Dutch landscape painting from the 17th century.
Kielland's later peat bog pictures tend to be lighter in tone, with extensive use of water mirrors. Torvmyr (1897, KODE art museums in Bergen) has clear blue and green colours, as the water reflects the bright blue sky. The melancholy of the early pictures has given way to pictures with a brighter and clearer colour. In the bog pictures from after 1900, the brushstrokes have become wider, more painterly or sketchy. The light is usually evenly distributed in the landscape, without large contrasts between light and dark. In this even light, the colors of the landscape stand out lusciously, clearly outlined against the soft sky.
The mood painting
Kielland spent the summer of 1885 in Risør, together with Harriet Backer. Here she painted a picture of the manor Bosvik, a summer evening picture where the house is reflected in the clear water in the foreground. The evening light collects the shapes in larger, more monotonous areas, and the water mirror captures the sky, which is still bright. The picture was named After Sunset and was exhibited at the Autumn Exhibition in 1885. After Sunset is considered to be the beginning of the neo-romanticism in Norway, where the painters sought to capture the special light of the Nordic summer night.
In the summer of 1886, Kielland painted summer night motifs on the farm Fleskum in Bærum, where Christian Skredsvig lived. Erik Werenskiold, Gerhard Munthe, Eilif Peterssen and Harriet Backer also painted here this summer. The pictures that were painted here this summer mark the influence of neo-romanticism in Norwegian painting. The details disappear in the summer night light, and a melancholic mood spreads over the pictures. The main works from the summer are Peterssen's Summer Night, Skredsvig's Boy with the Willow Flute and Kielland's Summer Night. Again, it is the water mirror that interests Kielland, where the sky is reflected in the mirror-like water.
Both After Sunset and Summer Night were exhibited at the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. In the same year she moved to Sandvika and also painted many atmospheric pictures from the Sandvik River. The following year she painted another summer night picture, this time from Western Norway. Evening landscape - Stokkavannet from 1890 is one of her best summer night pictures.