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27 April 2007
7/2007
Commemorative Issue

Theodor Severin Kittelsen 150th Anniversary

Norway
Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914) grew up in Kragero. His father died at an early age, leaving a wife and 8 children in straightened circumstances. Theodor was only 11 years old when he was apprenticed to a watchmaker. Many people realised, however, that he possessed a rare artistic talent and they helped him, at the age of 17, to travel to Christiania (Oslo) where he took drawing lessons with architect Wilhelm von Hanno.

Later he received financial support to study art in Munich, where he stayed for three happy years. In 1882 he was granted a state scholarship to study in Paris, but Paris did not suit him and he soon went back to Munich. No longer happy there, he returned to Norway in 1887, vowing never to leave it again.

He spent some years on the islands of Skomv?r and Rost. This meeting with the mighty Lofoten landscape was a turning point in his life. Here he encountered the cormorant, which he saw as his fairytale bird of the ocean, like the capercailzie of the deep, lonely spruce forests. The cormorant appears in many of the nature drawings in his Lofoten collection, published in 1890. This was his breakthrough.

After moving south again, he married Inga Kristine Dahl and settled with her in Eggedal in Buskerud in 1896. Three years later they built their own home, Lauvlia, in Sigdal. Kittelsen spent his best artistic years at Lauvlia. During this period, he also illustrated a number of folklore collections, including those of Asbjornsen and Moe. Life at Lauvlia was not easy. He and Inga had to struggle to provide for themselves and nine children and as time went by Kittelsen's health began to fail. There was one bright spot in 1908 when he was made Knight of the Order of St. Olav. However, he was forced to sell and leave Lauvlia in 1910. He was granted an artist

 

'An attack'

 

'Premature delivery'

Technical Information

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