German Painter, 1849-1938
German painter and printmaker. He studied painting at the Kunstschule in Weimar (1870). Prolonged illness forced him to interrupt his studies, which he resumed in 1874 under Ferdinand Schauss (1832-1916) and Alexandre Struys (1852-1941). Through visits to Paris in the 1870s, he came into contact with the art of the Barbizon school, painting en plein-air on his return to Weimar. Under the influence of Struys he painted figurative works, such as Roman Builders (1879; Menster, Westfel. Landesmus.), and nudes in the tradition of academically enlightened Realism. In 1881 Rohlfs worked in a studio under Max Thedy (1858-1924). From c. 1883 he painted mainly landscapes with the approval of Ludwig von Gleichen-Russwurm (1836-1901), who was studying with Theodor Hagen (1842-1919), and was influenced in an indirect way by Albert Brendel (1827-95), who had taught at Weimar from 1875. He often chose formats that were unusually large for landscape paintings in this period, presenting landscape in a similar way to history painting. Atmosphere and light played an important role even in these early pictures, for example Sawmill at Ehringsdorf on the Ilm (930x780 mm, 1883; Weimar, Schlossmus.). From 1884 he worked as an independent painter. After 1885 colour became increasingly important for its own sake; light and shade were suggested purely by colour, which was applied in impasto spots and brushstrokes to create chiaroscuro values that determined the form, for example Wild Garden near Weimar (1888; Weimar, Schlossmus.). By the end of the 1880s he had developed an independent style parallel to Impressionist painting. When he saw works by Monet exhibited in Weimar in 1897, these corroborated his own efforts.