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Joseph Kleitsch was born in Hungary in 1882. He began painting at the age of seven and was given a scholarship to study art by his native village and was afforded study in Budapest, Munich and Paris. By the age of 17, he was an accomplished portraitist with elite patrons such as Franz Josef of Austria. Furthering his studies in the U.S., Kleitsch painted many prominent local citizens while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. Kleitsch eventually settled in Laguna Beach, California in 1920 where he established the Kleitsch Academy of Art. His California works, exhibited at the Stendahl Galleries in Los Angeles, were focused on the landscape, gardens and architecture around his home in Laguna Beach.