Constantin Kluge

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Constantin Kluge (1912–2003) was an award winning painter originally from Russia. Raised mostly in Manchuria and Beijing, Kluge eventually settled in Paris and became a French citizen. He is known for his French landscapes and romantic scenes of Paris.


Constantin Kluge was born on January 29, 1912 in Riga, then a large industrial port city in the Russian Empire.

Kluge was born into a family of means and some status. His paternal grandfather had spent years in France studying the cultivation of vines and wine making. Returning to Russia he developed a successful winery. Kluge's father, also Constantin, was a member of the Russian Army General Staff and a White Army sympathizer. Kluge's mother, Liouba Ignatieva, was an academic who also came from a military family. When his parents met, young Liouba was serving as tutor to the children of Russian Grand Duke Michel, the younger brother of Czar Nicholas II.[1] The family moved often, following Constantin Sr.'s deployments with the counter rebellion armies. Each move seemed to take the family further and further east as the revolution spread and the White Sympathizers controlled a decreasing part of the country.

Kluge settled in Paris in 1950 and soon thereafter found representation in a French gallery on Rue Saint-Honore. In 1964 he became a citizen of France.

Kluge was married three times and had one child, Michel. His first wife and child's mother was Tania de Liphart. Kluge's second wife was Mary Starr (née Malcolm), the former wife of AIG Founder Neil Starr.[2] Kluge died on 9 January 2003 in France.[3]

Early Life[edit]

In the winter of 1919-1920, the family traveled via train to Harbin, Manchuria. Living in Manchuria, Kluge first discovered an interest in art while learning Chinese. Kluge enjoyed beauty of drawing the characters of Mandarin and proper technique for holding the brush.

Eventually, with the situation in Manchuria changing, the family moved to Beijing. At school in Beijing, Kluge was first introduced to formal art study, studying under the direction of the Russian artist Podgursky Chernomyrdin. Although he demonstrated real talent as an artist, he would pursue architecture in France.

In Paris, Kluge earned admission into the École des Beaux Arts to study architecture and in 1937 he earned his diploma. His intention to had been to return to Beijing. However he was stymied by his to desire to paint the river banks, bridges, and streets of Paris he had come to love. He chose to spend six months painting Paris after graduating, after which he returned east to Shanghai, not Beijing.[4]

Artistic Career[edit]

In Shanghai, the turn world events helped force Kluge to paint. As an aspiring architect, he took a job in the office that processed building permits for the Shanghai French Concession. However with the outbreak of the war, building nearly ceased as raw materials were being confiscated by the Japanese for their military. Kluge filled his time with painting.

In 1946, with Mao Tse Tung was sweeping southward and foreigners were flooding out of Shanghai, Kluge moved to Hong Kong, continuing to work as an architect. However, Kluge still found himself hypnotized by painting. After showing some of his completed works to his friends, they convinced him to exhibit his works publicly. Thus, Kluge began to exhibit his paintings of Paris around China, to much success. Realizing that his hobby of painting, which he had never considered as a possibility as a career, could actually support him and his family, Kluge made the decision to pursue a career in art full time.

in 1950, Kluge moved back to Paris, leaving China for good and resolving to become a professional painter. His background in architecture heavily informed his works, the Parisian buildings he paints being depicted with striking architectural and structural accuracy. In Paris just as in China, his street scenes were met with delight. In his very first salon, the Paris Salon in 1951, his paintings won awards and garnered a fair amount of attention.

In the 1960s, Kluge's work caught the eye of American art dealer Wally Findlay, of Wally Findlay Galleries. Findlay began to represent Kluge, bringing his Parisian paintings to America and showing them in his galleries in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Kluge continued to achieve great success in his artistic career, receiving several awards and honors, and showing his works across Europe and America.


As a young man in China, Kluge became focused on his Christianity, and befriended several Jesuit missionaries including Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Pierre Leroy. Their correspondence and notes on their friendship are housed in the Georgetown University Library's special collections.

Major exhibitions[edit]


  • 1961 - Silver Medal, Salon des Artistes Francais
  • 1961 - Salon des Artistes Francais, Taylor Foundation's Raymond Perreau Prize
  • 1962 - Gold Medal, Salon des Artistes Francais
  • 1990 - Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur


  1. ^ "Les Morts Ont Donné Signes de Vie;" Jean Prieur; Fernand Lanore, Paris; 1984; p. 53.
  2. ^ "Fallen Giant: The Amazing Story of Hank Greenberg and the History of AIG;"Ronald Shelp and Al Ehrbar; John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken New Jersey; 2009; p.72.
  3. ^ Paid Notice: Deaths KLUGE, CONSTANTIN, New York Times, 16 January 2003
  4. ^ "Constantin Kluge - Findlay Galleries". Findlay Galleries. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  • Constantin Kluge; "Constantin Kluge;" Paris France, 1987.

External links[edit]