Artist biography

Niklavs Strunke 1894-1966

Latvian painter of landscapes, still life and figure compositions, illustrator and designer. Born at Gostynin, Poland. Studied at the Imperial Academy of Art, St Petersburg, and at the Imperial School for the Encouragement of Art in the same city; a pupil of M. Bernstein, I. Bilibin, N. Rerich and Leon Bakst. Spent several years in Germany, Austria and Italy to complete his studies. Afterwards moved to Riga, where, in addition to painting, he designed sets for the National Opera and Theatre, illustrated children's books, and designed pottery and furniture. Sought to introduce new idioms into Latvian art and painted in a Cubist style c.1923-8. Fled from Latvia in 1944 and settled in Stockholm, where he did some further work as designer for the theatre. Executed a cycle of paintings 'God, Thy Earth is aflame!', inspired by the tragic destiny of Latvia. Made lengthy visits each year to Italy, to study art and paint. Published a collection of his writings on art, Sveta Birze (The Sacred Grove) 1964; a further selection, Trimdas Gramata (Book of Exile), was published posthumously in 1971. Died in Rome.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.710