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Constantin Kluge is a very well known post-Impressionist artist of the twentieth century. Although he was born on January 29, 1912 in Riga Russia, he is famous for his paintings of both Paris and the countryside of France.
He was the son of a Russian military officer and of a Russian Professor of Literature. His family was quite wealthy and well known. Because of his father’s postings much of his childhood was spent growing up in Manchuria, Shanghai and Beijing. While learning how to speak Mandarin as well as his native Russian, he studied Chinese calligraphy in his youth. The fine brush strokes of calligraphy is evident in the fine strokes that he also used while painting. Also in Beijing he attended the French Municipal High School where he learned French and grew up studying art.
Because his parents wanted him to have a profession that would enable Constantin to support himself financially, they sent him to Paris in 1931 to study architecture at L’ecole des Beaux-Arts. While he was studying architecture, he also pursued his true love of painting. He was enchanted by the Latin Quarter, other areas of Paris, and the French country-side which were the initial subjects of his paintings.
A few months after graduation, Constantin returned to his family in Shanghai at the beginning of World War II. During this time Constantin initially tried to work as an architect, however because of the lack of building due to the war and Japanese occupation, he found himself spending more of his time painting. After the war was over, the environment in Shanghai grew tense with the rise of Mao’s armies.His family decided to move to Hong Kong.
Initially while in Hong he worked as an architect to support himself and his family. However during this time he sent his free time continuing his first love of painting. Eventually by the early 1950’s because of the threat of Communist Chinese’s takeover of Hong Kong, he and his family moved back to his beloved Paris of his youth.
Upon arriving in Paris, he abandoned architecture, and started his full-time career as an artist. Constantin was a prolific painter and his works were quite popular. He was a success both artistically and financially. Of his many awards, he received the Gold Medal, Salon des Artistes Francais and the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French government.
Looking at Constantin’s life work, one notices his love of Paris, of French landscapes, of portraits, and water scenes. His command of architecture is evident in the buildings of his beloved Paris. However as a pure artist who studied careful Chinese calligraphy his subtle paintings of landscapes, beautiful womaen, and water scenes are also breath-taking and much admired.
Constantin passed away in January 16, 2003.