Christian Krohg was born in Norway on August 13, 1852. His father, Georg Anton Krohg, was a lawyer and political leader in the Norwegian government, and his grandfather, whom he was named after, had also been a minister in the government. With the family tradition pressuring him, Krohg went to study in the University of Oslo, where he majored in law studies for four years, between 1869 and 1873.
It’s not known when he stopped practicing law, but his education was taken up again in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he took courses at the Baden School of Art. His teacher there was Hans Gude. After Germany his next home became Skagen, a piece of land with a town on it, also called Skagen, in Denmark, which juts out into the sea...not surprisingly then, the area is also called Jutland.
Krohg arrived there in 1879, and stayed in the well-known artist colony at Skagen. He became a regular visitor, and made friends with the other artists there. He especially influenced the Ancher’s, Anna and Michael, and he was helpful to Edvard Munch while he knew him there. Between 1881 and 1882 Krohg lived in Paris, studying and finding some work there before returning to Oslo.
Krohg is known for his style as a naturalist painter, but he was also an author, an art journalist for newspapers and magazines, an author and an illustrator. His preference in subjects was for social outcasts, the lower class, and the darker, sadder elements of life. He had been inspired by episodes from daily life that the realists liked to use as their subjects, and although he painted fishermen and domestic scenes too, he drew the most attention for his depictions of prostitutes. The theme of prostitutes was even in his writings, such as in his book called Albertine, which he completed in 1886. The police confiscated his book after it was published because it had created a great scandal.
His strengths in producing thought-provoking and emotional characters was part of the reason that Krohg was a leader in the changing styles of the Norwegian artists of his day. The transitional development that took the romantic school of art to the naturalist form was aided greatly by his straightforward style. His writings in the Impressionsten, which was a Bohemian journal which he founded in 1886, as well as his 20 years writing for the Oslo newspaper (1890-1910) had a profound effect on the artists based in Norway. He took on a position in the Norwegian Academy of Fine Arts/The Norwegian Academy of Arts in 1909, which may have been one of the reasons that he ended his tenure at the newspaper in 1910. He worked there as a professor director until 1925.
Krohg and his wife Oda, who was also an artist, had one child, a son who became an muralist; his name was Per Lasson Krohg. Christian Krohg’s paintings can be seen in Oslo at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, as well as in Denmark, at the Skagens Museum. Some of his notable paintings are The Hair is Braided (1882), Albertine at the Police Doctor’s Waiting Room (1886), Toilet, Sleeping Mother With Child (1883)and his very sad and moving painting titled Sick Girl (1881).