Cornelius David Krieghoff (June 19, 1815 – April 8, 1872) is a Canadian painter of the 19th century. Krieghoff is most famous for his paintings of Canadian landscapes and Canadian life outdoors, which were sought-after in his own time as they are today. He is particularly famous for his winter scenes, some of which he painted in a number of variants (e.g. Running the Toll).
The Blacksmith’s Shop’, oil on canvas painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 22 x 36 in, 1871, Art Gallery of Ontario
Life and career
Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam. He was initially taught by his father and then entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Germany about 1830. He moved to New York in 1836, and enlisted in the United States Army in 1837. While in the army, he made sketches of the Second Seminole War from which he later produced oil paintings. He was discharged from the army on May 5, 1840. Together with his wife Émilie Gauthier, he moved to Montreal around 1846. He participated in the Salon de la Société des Artistes de Montréal. While in Montreal, he befriended the Mohawks living on the Kahnawake Indian Reservation and made many sketches of them from which he later produced oil paintings.
Self-portrait by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1855, National Gallery of Canada
Krieghoff traveled to Paris in 1844, where he copied masterpieces at the Louvre under the direction of Michel Martin Drolling (1789–1851). The Krieghoffs returned to Montreal in 1846, and in 1847 he was invited to participate in the first exhibition of the Toronto Society of Arts. He and his family moved to Quebec City in 1853. He returned to Europe in 1854, visiting Italy and Germany. In 1855, he returned to Canada. He lived in Europe from 1863 to 1868 and then moved to Chicago to retire. He died in Chicago on March 8, 1872 at the age of 56 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. A decade later, on June 8, 1881, the Great Quebec Fire destroyed many of his sketches, then owned by John S. Budden, who had lived with the artist for thirteen years.
The Toll Gate, oil on canvas painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1859
According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, “Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils… the splendour of our waterfalls, and the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers”
The public collections holding works by Cornelius Krieghoff are the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Hamilton, Canada), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada), the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, Canada), the Brooklyn Museum (New York City), the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Canada), the McCord Museum (Montreal, Canada), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, Canada), Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Quebec, Canada), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Canada), the New York Public Library (New York City), the Rockwell Museum of Western Art (Corning, New York), and the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Winnipeg, Canada).
Indian Woman Moccasin Seller
On 29 November 1972 Canada Post issued ‘Cornelius Krieghoff, painter, 1815-1872’ designed by William Rueter based on a painting “The Blacksmith’s Shop” (1871), by Cornelius Krieghoff in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario. The 8¢ stamps are perforated 11 and were printed by British American Bank Note Company.
On 7 July 2000 Canada Post issued ‘The Artist at Niagara, 1858, Cornelius Krieghoff’ in the Masterpieces of Canadian art series. The stamp was designed by Pierre-Yves Pelletier based on an oil painting “The Artist at Niagara” (1858) by Cornelius Krieghoff in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario. The 95¢ stamps are perforated 13 X 13.5 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited.
The auction record for a painting by Cornelius Krieghoff is $158,350 (171,000 Canadian dollars). This record was set by Caughnawaga Indians at Camp, a 17.5 by 26.5 inch oil painting on canvas sold May 29, 2007 at Joyner Waddington (Toronto).
The Toll Gate, oil on canvas painting by Cornelius Krieghoff, 1861,National Gallery of Canada