Christian Rohlfs - Waldinneres (Erling)
Christian Rohlfs - Waldinneres (Erling)

Rohlfs, Christian

Date/place of birth

22 December 1849 in Groß Niendorf/Holstein

Day/place of death

1938 Hagen

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Christian Rohlfs had already established a successful career as a landscape and history painter when, at an advanced age, he led the expressionist style to its highest perfection and thus became one of the leading representatives of this style of painting in Germany,

Christian Rohlfs – Encouragement from Theodor Storm, lessons from Paul Thumann

Christian Rohlfs was born on 22 December 1849 in Groß Niendorf. In 1851 his parents moved to Fredesdorf, and in 1864 he badly injured his leg falling from a tree. His doctor, Dr. Ernst Stolle, Theodor Sturm’s brother-in-law, gave him drawing implements to fight the boredom, and his first attempts at drawing impressed the doctor so much that he introduced him to his famous brother-in-law. After several years at Segeberger School, Theodor Storm introduced Christian Rohlfs to the art writer and painter Ludwig Pietsch, who was equally impressed by the young man’s talent and referred him to the Grand Ducal Art School in Weimar, where Paul Thumann was his teacher. In 1873, trouble with his leg caused him to interrupt his studies, and amputation was finally deemed necessary. Rohlf was able to resume his studies in 1874.

Naturalism, Impressionism, Expressionism

At the beginning of his artistic career, Christian Rohlf created primarily naturalistic paintings in close relation to the Barbizon School. From 1884 he worked in Weimar as a freelance artist and turned more and more to Impressionism. His historical paintings won him the benevolence of the Grand Duke of Sachsen-Weimar, who from then on became his patron. Invitations from Therese Heydenreich and Karl Ernst Osthaus led him to the Schauenburg-Hoof estate and to Hagen, where he taught at the Folkwang School. In the stimulating surroundings of the Folkwang Museum, run by his friend and patron Osthaus, he was able to set up his own studio. The artist travelled many times for work to Soest where he was fascinated with the medieval buildings and churches, which would serve as a subject for his work into the 1920s. Around 1910, Christian Rohlfs’ style developed towards Expressionism under the impression of an exhibition by the artist group “Brücke”. In the same year, the Deutsche Künstlerverbund elected him a member of the jury.

Late great moments, National Socialist work ban

On the occasion of his 75th birthday, Christian Rohlf was accepted as a member of the Preußische Akademie der Künste. From 1927 he spent most of his years with his wife Helene Vogt on Lago Maggiore in Ascona for health reasons, and it was here in 1930 that he met Marianne von Werefkin and Helmuth Macke in 1930, with whom an intense work collaboration developed. Rohlfs created a remarkable late oeuvre, proving him to be an accomplished master of the expressionist style. During National Socialism, Rohlfs had a hard time as a modern artist, many of his works were confiscated as “degenerate” and he himself was banned from working. With great difficulty, his wife however was able to rescue some of his works. Christian Rohlf died on 8 January 1938 in Hagen. The day before, at the instigation of the authorities, he had been expelled from the Preußische Akademie der Künste. A selection of his works were shown posthumously at the first document in Kassel in 1955.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Christian Rohlfs Prices

Artist Artwork Price
Christian Rohlfs Waldinneres (Erling) €73.780
Christian Rohlfs Amaryllisblüte (Amaryllis Blossom) €67.200
Christian Rohlfs Blumenstilleben €54.740
Christian Rohlfs Schneeberg am See €52.360
Christian Rohlfs Drei Sonnenblumen €49.980
Christian Rohlfs Tanz um den Blütenbaum €47.600

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