Julius Rolshoven Biography

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Julius Rolshoven (1858 - 1930) Born on 28 October 1858 in Detroit, the son of a jeweler, JuliuRolshoven enrolled at the Cooper Union Art School after being rejected by the National Academy of Design in 1876.  Two years later, he was at the Düsseldorf Academy under Hugo Crola (1841-1910), a portraitist.  Rolshoven transferred to Munich to study under Ludwig von Löfftz, then he became one of the ”Duveneck Boys” and spent a year in Venice and some time in Florence. The Detroit Institute of Arts has his Florentine Boys (1884). He moved to Paris, now with a Venetian bride, to study at the Académie Julian where his teachers were Bouguereau and Robert-Fleury.  For Rolshoven, things were looking brighter and he must have felt vindicated when the works he shipped from Paris ended up on the walls of the National Academy for their annual exhibitions of 1885 and 1889.  Also in 1889, Rolshoven won a second-class silver medal at the Paris Universal Exposition (though his name does not appear in the official catalogue). According to Quick (1976, p. 126), Rolshoven “conducted a popular and successful class for an international group of students.”  The artist sentHall in the Doge’s Palace, Venice (ca. 1888) and A Spanish Dancer to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1893 (both lost).

Rolshoven moved to London in 1896, where his wife died the following year.  The artist moved away to a castle near Florence called Castello del Diavolo, practiced portrait and genre painting, and continued teaching.  He submitted My Great-grandmother’s Finery (unlocated) to the Exposition Universelle of 1900, which won him an Honorable Mention.  A year later, he was the recipient of a bronze medal at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, where two portraits and From Tuscan Wanderings, possibly a landscape, were on view.  Stebbins (1982, p. 358) mentions that Rolshoven met Chase and his group of Art Students League students in Florence, in the summer of 1907.

Still showing aesthetic curiosity, Rolshoven ventured to Northern Africa in 1910 and later executed a series of Tunisian paintings.  The University of New Mexico has his Tunisian Bedouins (see Ackerman, 1994).  Rolshoven fled France during the war years (1914-18). He visited the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 where he exhibited an Italian scene.  The painter remarried a year later and discovered another exotic area, Taos, New Mexico, where he set up a studio and painted Southwestern Indian themes, for which he is well known.  Rolshoven was elected an associate of the Taos Society of Artists in 1917.  Two years later, he revisited Florence but returned to Taos regularly until his death in New York City, on December 7, 1930.  There was a certain classicism in Rolshoven’s late period, for example, Donna Tosca, exhibited at the NAD in 1926.  The elegant pose brings to mind the statuesque sitters of Sir Joshua Reynolds and the tight brushwork seems to represent a new direction for a former “Duveneck Boy.”

Hartmann, Sadakichi. A History of American Art. Boston: L.C. Page and Co.,1902, vol. 2, p. 195; “The Santa Fe-Taos Art Colony: Julius Rolshoven.” El Palacio 4 (July 1917): 70-79; Earle, Helen. Biographical Sketches of American Artists [1924]. Charleston, SC: Garnier and Co., 1972, pp. 269-271; Jackman, Rilla. American Arts. New York: Rand McNally and Co., 1928, pp. 118-119, 266; Grand Central Art Galleries. Memorial Exhibition, Julius Rolshoven. New York: 1954; Quick, Michael. American Expatriate Painters of the Late Nineteenth Century. Dayton, OH: The Dayton Art Institute, 1976, pp. 126-127; Robertson, Edna and Sarah Nestor. Artists of the Canyons and Caminos: Santa Fe, the Early Years. N.p.: Peregrine Smith, 1976, pp. 118-121; Soria, Regina. Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century American Artists in Italy 1760-1914. East Brunswick, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1982, p. 263; Masterpieces of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection. The Anschutz Collection, 1983, cat. no. 36; Eldredge, Charles, Julie Schimmel, and William H. Treuttner. Art in New Mexico, 1900-1945: Paths to Taos and Santa Fe. New York: Abbeville Press, 1986, pp. 54-55, 206; Zellman, David. 300 Years of American Art. Seacacus, NJ: Wellfleet Press, 1987, p. 523; Gerdts, William H. Art across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920. New York: Abbeville Press, 1990, vol. 3, pp. 156-157; Stebbins, Theodore E. The Lure of Italy: American Artists and the Italian Experience 1760-1914. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992, p. 358; Revisiting the White City: American Art at the 1893 World’s Fair. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1993, p. 310; Ackerman, Gerald. Les orientalistes de l’école américaine. Vol. 10 of Les orientalistes series. Paris: ACR Editions, 1994, pp. 168-169.

Biography Courtesy: Richard H. Love and Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.X


Born in Detroit, Michigan, Julius Rolshoven first became an established painter in the East and then from 1916, a distinguished painter of Southwestern portraits and landscapes, known for his effective use of light and color.

He was the son of a German jeweler and learned designing by working in his father's workshop.  He was inspired in an art career by seeing the art exhibits at the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition.

In New York City, having been denied admission to the National Academy, he attended Cooper Union Academy and studied with Ernst Plassman, and the following year, 1878, traveled to Europe where he studied at the Academie of Dusseldorf and the Royal Academy of Munich with Frank Duveneck. 

In Paris, he was a student of Adolphe Bouguereau, and by 1890 was teaching art in Paris, and by 1896, in London.  He traveled and painted extensively in Europe, and in 1926, was elected an Associate Academician of the National Academy in New York.

He married Anna Chickering of the piano manufacturing family, but she died several years later, so he returned to Italy to live.  With the outbreak of World War I, he returned to America, and in 1914 first went to the American West, becoming interested in the Indians of New Mexico when he and his second wife, Harriette Blazo, honeymooned in Santa Fe.  In 1916, they moved to Santa Fe where they lived the remainder of their lives with frequent trips to Italy. 

He had a studio in the Palace of the Governors and found much challenge experimenting with the effects of light on portraits of Indians, many whom became good friends.  He decided the outdoor light was too harsh, and began painting his outdoor works in a large white tent to get the subdued effects he wanted.  He used the "Old Master" techniques he had learned in Europe.

Dean Porter and Teresa Ebie, Taos Artists and Their Patrons
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art