Theodor Kittelsen was the man who painted trolls. He spent his life drawing and painting pictures of these beastly supernatural giants.
According to Scandinavian folklore trolls live in caves, woods or mountains far from the plague of humankind. Trolls eat humans. They especially like young humans whose flesh is juicy, sweet and soft.
Understandably, humans don’t like trolls—that’s why they steer clear of these slow-witted beasts—or if need be hunt them down in packs.
Kittelsen was born in Kragerø, Norway in 1857. He was one of eight children. When his father died, Kittelsen was apprenticed to a watchmaker. He was just eleven years old. He wanted to be an artist but the family’s desperate need for money meant he had to work. In his spare time, he sketched and painted. His drawings brought him to the attention of a patron who paid for Kittelsen, now aged seventeen, to attend art school in Oslo and later one in Germany. When his patron’s money ran out in 1879, Kittelsen eventually returned home to work as a draftsman for newspapers.
But fortune was still on his side and Kittelsen won a scholarship to study painting in Paris in 1882. Five years later, he returned once again to Norway where he started his career as an artist. Originally he was painted landscapes and romantic rustic scenes. But through time and by commission, Kittelsen was hired to illustrate Norwegian folktales. So began his career painting and drawing trolls, monsters, witches and supernatural creatures.
Sadly, Kittelsen never made much money out of his troll artwork during his lifetime. Today, he is a star in Norway. Everywhere else—not so much. There is a museum dedicated to his life and work and his paintings and drawings of trolls and the Black Death have featured on numerous album covers by Death Metal and Heavy Metal bands—all of which can be seen here.
‘Skogtroll’ (‘Forest Troll’) 1906.
‘The Water Troll Who Eats Only Young Girls,’ 1881.
More hellish trolls, beasts and plague, after the jump…