* 22 December 1849 in Niendorf/Holstein, † 8 January 1938 in Hagen
German painter and graphic artist
Christian Rohlfs stands alone as a painter of the first half of the 20th century. His works span a bridge from plein air painting to late Expressionism. Although his artistic talent is recognized very early, he is not able to end his studies at the Grand Ducal School of Art in Weimar till 1884 because of his health. He remains in Weimar as a freelance artist until 1901. He moves to Hagen on an invitation from Karl Ernst Osthaus, where he is provided with a freelance studio. During this time he studies the paintings of the Impressionists and Neo Impressionists and becomes acquainted with Emil Nolde. Rohlfs never loses contact with avant-gardist trends. From 1910 he devotes himself to the woodcut and moves toward Expressionist pictorial concepts. World War I leads him to radically new thematic issues, expressed in Biblical motifs. As of 1918, he enjoyed increasing artistic recognition. In the following years Rohlfs becomes a master of modern watercolour painting. In 1925 an exhibition in the Berlin National Gallery makes him famous. After the Nazis come to power, he is considered “degenerate” and, on 7 January 1939, officially excluded from the Prussian Academy of the Arts, one day before his death. He dies in his studio in Hagen where, despite the ban on painting, he has managed to produce 130 pictures.