LOUIS CHARLES CHRISTOPHER KRIEGER
(1873 – 1940)
Best known for his paintings of mushrooms, L. C. C. Krieger also created a large number of unique paintings of Opuntia, the prickly pear cactus, some of which appear in Britton and Rose’s landmark study of cacti, The Cactaceae.
Krieger showed a talent for art early in life, and at age 13 he began formal art studies. At 18, he took a position as illustrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it was here, working for the Division of Microscopy, that Krieger developed a lifelong passion for the study and painting of mushrooms. When the Division was disbanded four years later, he took the opportunity to travel abroad to study art in Munich.
Upon returning to Maryland, Krieger taught drawing and painting until he was offered a position as mycological illustrator for Professor William Farlow at Harvard University. He worked for the next ten years as one of the artists assisting in the production of Farlow’s Icones Farlowianae: Illustrations of the Larger Fungi of Eastern North America.
In 1912, Krieger returned to work at the USDA, this time in Chico, California, at the Plant Introduction Garden. The project’s director, David Griffiths, was a botanist studying the forage potential of the prickly pear cacti. Griffiths had traveled extensively by motorcycle in the southwestern United States and Mexico collecting specimens of the cactus and surveying populations. The result was a collection of over 6,000 specimens and an enormous photographic record of the cacti, their habitat and the practical ways in which they were being utilized. Krieger worked with Griffiths to develop a unique method to produce paintings of these many Opuntia specimens.
Krieger left the USDA in 1917, once again to pursue his passion for painting fungi. For the next ten years, he and Dr. Howard A. Kelly, a Baltimore physician, worked to create and catalogue Kelly's private mycological library. Soon after, he was appointed Mycologist to the New York State Museum and wrote a guide to the fungi of New York State
Krieger joined with Griffiths and the USDA again beginning in 1929, this time illustrating flowers of ornamental bulbs and diseases of plants. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1940.