Paul Rohland (1884-1949): A New View
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
By Bruce Weber and Melinda R. Meister
In recent months, Paul Rohland has become less of a shadowy figure in the annals of American art and the Woodstock art colony. This is the result of his great niece Melinda R. Meister’s authorship of a Wikipedia entry on the artist. The entry, which was completed with my assistance, provides a more complete picture of Rohland’s career and accomplishments than had previously been known. For this blog I thought it would be valuable to comment on aspects of Rohland's art, career and connection to Woodstock. This will be followed by the Wikipedia entry written by Melinda R. Meister. It is our hope to organize a long overdue exhibition of Rohland’s art.
Eugene Speicher (1883-1962)
Portrait of Paul Rohland, c. 1925
American Academy of Arts and Letters
Paul Herman Rohland was a native of Richmond, Virginia, where he was born in 1884. Between approximately 1909 and 1916, he studied for periods at the Art Students League (with Edward Dufner), the New York School of Art and the Lincoln Arcade (with Robert Henri), and in Paris (neither his school nor his instructors are known). In 1913 three of his works were included in the landmark Armory Show in New York City, as well as in a notable group exhibition at the MacDowell Club in New York City, which included some of the Woodstock modernists Andrew Dasburg and Konrad Cramer’s most experimental canvases. Unfortunately, none of the works by Rohland that were featured in these two shows have surfaced, except for possibly a garden picture, that may have been shown at the MacDowell Club. As a result we have yet to fully know what his art was like at this time.
Edwin Dickinson (1891-1978)
Two Friends, 14th Street, 1917
Formerly Goldstone Collection
Rohland’s acquaintance with Dasburg, Cramer and Henry Lee McFee (whose Cubist-inspired pictures were also featured at the McDowell Club exhibition) likely spurred his interest in coming to Woodstock. He may also have been sparked to come there by his friend, the art writer and first curator of the Woodstock Art Association, William Murrell Fisher, who retired to Woodstock in about 1917 because of health reasons. Fisher received a pension from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he had the opportunity to meet many artists at his job, which entailed making arrangements for artists to copy pictures in the museum's collection. Rohland and Fisher (at top) are the subjects of Edwin Dickinson’s painting Two Friends, 14th Street of 1917. Dickinson and Rohland shared a studio for part of that year on the fourth floor of 25 East 14th Street in Manhattan. Rohland was also the subject of a portrait by Dickinson of the same year.
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
Untitled, by March 1918
The Plowshare, March 1918
The earliest evidence of Rohland’s involvement in the Woodstock art colony is his cover image for the March 1918 issue of the Maverick founder Hervey White’s periodical The Plowshare. Rohland contributed woodcuts and linocuts to this publication as well as to the Woodstock satirical magazine the Hue and the Cry. In 1919 and 1920, he exhibited at Konrad Cramer’s wife Florence Ballln Cramer’s art gallery in New York City, and in 1919 married the Woodstock artist Caroline Speare, who first came to Woodstock in 1912 to study with John F. Carlson at the Art Student League’s Woodstock School of Landscape Painting.
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
The French Hat, c. 1920
Historical Society of Woodstock
Caroline Speare Rohland served as the model.
The couple lived in the stone cottage that was designed and constructed for Speare in the course of 1917 and 1918 by the prominent Kingston architect Myron Teller. The house is located approximately one and a half miles from the center of the village on what is now known as Speare Road.
Cottage of Miss. Caroine M. Speare, Woodstock, Ulster, Co., N.Y,
”The Charm of a Small House,"
Architectural Record 44 (October, 1918): 278.
Rear View from Garden - Cottage of Miss Caroline M. Speare, Woodstock
”The Charm of a Small House,"
Architectural Record 44 (October, 1918): 280.
John Kleinhans (b. 1942)
Speare/Rohland House Today
In 1919, the sculptor Paul Fiene bought property from Caroline Speare Rohland just below her home. He and his artist brother Ernest soon built homes and studios on the property. At this time the dean of the Woodstock art colony, Birge Harrison, lived a short distance away. This is one of the many clusters of artist houses that dotted the village and nearby vicinity of Woodstock in the early decades of the 20th century. The Rohand and Fiene houses are noted on Rudolf and Margaret Wetterau’s map of 1926, which shows the location of the homes of Woodstock artists. Rohland’s friendship with Fisher may have led to his introduction, as well as that of the Fiene’s, to the sculptor Gaston Lachaise, who often visited Woodstock in the early 1920s. Lachaide created a portrait bust of Ernest’s wife Jeanette. This was among the most fascinating artistic circles within the historic Woodstock art colony, and briefly included the poet Hart Crane, who lived with Rohland and Speare for a period.
During the early 1920s, Rohland was active in the fledging Woodstock Art Association. He regularly exhibited landscapes and flower studies, and in 1923 served as a member of the organization’s committee of control. Among his fellow committee members were Dasburg, George Bellows, Carl Eric Lindin, and Eugene Speicher, who painted Rohland’s portrait about this time. Rohland’s strongest aesthetic ties were to the association’s modernist circle of artists. His floral still lifes in oil, watercolor, and monotype, rank as his most beautiful, spirited and original works. The Rohlands had a large and impressive garden in Woodstock, and the artist painted a wide variety of flowers, including dahlias, chrysanthemums, poppies and zinnias, and favored a palette of rich oranges, yellows, pinks and reds.
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
Red and Blue Flowers in Vase, c. 1920
Watercolor on paper
Collection of Melinda R. Meister
Paul Rohland (1884-1949) Poppies and Zinnias in Colored Vase,
Oil on canvas Collection of Melinda R. Meister
The important art collector Albert C. Barnes, founder of the Barnes Foundation in Lower Marion, Pennsylvania, paid a visit to Woodstock on the first weekend of September 1920. The artist Eugene Speicher helped Barnes and his wife find a place to stay, organized a party in his honor, and accompanied the collector to the studios of Rohland, Dasburg, Bellows, McFee, and possibly others. Barnes acquired five monotypes by Rohland, and a Sante Fe landscape by Dasburg, and considered acquiring McFee’s Apples in a Hat.
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
Poppies, by 1920
Monotype on paper
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
Domestic Arrangement, c. 1925
Monotype on paper
Heckscher Museum of Art
Paul Rohland (1884-1949)
Untitled Landscape, c. 1922-1923
Monotype on paper
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum
In his monotypes, Rohland followed the traditional approach of transferring a wet image to paper. After his visit Barnes wrote Rohland that he had “just as vivid a sense of your monotypes this morning as I had when I saw them on Sunday. . . .” (Albert C. Barnes to Paul Rohland, September 7th, 1920, Barnes Foundation Archives). He felt these lushly colored and lively works “successfully competed in cheerfulness and charm with a right crisp day. You ought to do more canvases and show them. You’re saying something” (Barnes is quoted in William Schack, Art and Argyrol: The Life of Dr. Albert C, Barnes [New York: Sagamore Press, 1960], p. 111). Rohland’s friend and fellow Woodstock artist Jean Paul Slusser (who also executed monotypes), remarked in 1928 that “Only a temperament as native to the sun and the soil as the flowers themselves could have produced [Rohland’s floral still lifes]; they are the celebration of the joys of color and form by a painter who has no other prepossession than that of seeing happily, of employing to the full the pleasures of the eyes” (Jean Paul Slusser, “Paul Rohland,” The Arts 13 [June 1928]: 357).
I would to thank William Rhoads, Mikhail Horowitz, Frederick Baker, and Kerrilyn Blee, Assistant Curator, Heckscher Museum of Art for their assistance.
Paul Herman Rohland
Melinda R. Meister
Entry posted on Wikipedia 24 April 2020
Rewritten by author as Word Document September 6th,, 2020
Paul Herman Rohland (March 11, 1884 – September 29, 1949) was an American artist, printmaker, watercolorist, and muralist. He exhibited in the Armory Show of 1913 in New York City. Among others, his work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Barnes Foundation, Smithsonian AmerIcan Art Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, and the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. He painted three post office murals for the Treasury Section of Fine Arts.
Early Life and Career
Born March 11, 1884, in Richmond, Virginia, Rohland was the fourth of seven sons of Clara Marie (née Thilow) and Otto Friedrich Rohland. At the age of 14 he went to work as a photo engraver for the Christopher Engraving Company in Richmond. He studied in evening art classes at the Virginia Mechanics Institute under the painter and illustrator Wm. L. Sheppard, and the artist and lithographer, Richard A. Duckhardt. In 1900 his family moved to Philadelphia where he worked as a copper etcher for Beck's Engraving. From 1902 to 1906, he lived in New York and continued his evening art studies under Robert Henri at the New York School of Art and at the Art Students League, where he won a prize in the League's "Fakir's Exhibition." Then, with an aunt's financial help, he was able to complete several years of formal art studies in France.
Returning to New York in 1909, he studied the following illustration the following year under Edward Dufner at the League, and took classes with Henri at the Lincoln Arcade. Twenty-four artists associated with the colony exhibited in the legendary Armory Show of 1913, which featured 1,300 works of art. Rohland entered three paintings and sold one. Later that year, Rohland showed his work at the MacDowell Club of New York and the Carnegie Institute International Exhibition. In 1919 he married Caroline Speare, a Woodstock colleague and fellow participant in the colony's lively Maverick Festivals. The couple maintained a home and a large, impressive garden in Woodstock where they grew the flowers that Rohland used in his floral oils and watercolors.
In search of subjects for their art work, the couple often traveled to Europe, Puerto Rico, and southern and western states. They lived in New York City for short periods, but Woodstock remained their major residence for many years. There, Peter A. Juley & Son included both of them in their photographic documentation of early 20th-century American painters. The Rohlands' careers were linked until their marriage ended with his death in 1949.
Like other art colonies, Woodstock fostered artistic camaraderie. Throughout Rohland's life, the colony's artists and artist couples, Andrew Dasburg and his wife, Grace Mott Johnson, Florence and Konrad Cramer, Henry McFee, Emil Ganso, Peggy Bacon, Eugene and Elsie Speicher, and many others were among their close and instructive friends. In 1920, when Speicher took Albert C. Barnes, founder of the Barnes Foundation, on a tour of Woodtock artists' studios, Barnes bought five of Rohland's monotypes. Barnes later wrote Rohland, saying the works "successfully competed in cheerfulness and charm with a bright, crisp day.”
By the early 1920's, Rohland, like other Woodstock artists, was depicting the local landscape in heavy brushstrokes and earthy tones, which some newspaper reviews called "modernism." However, Rohland's watercolors remained bright and fluid. Local landscape painter and art writer, Jean-Paul Slusser, wrote of Rohland's floral oils and watercolors, "only a temperament as native to the sun and the soil as the flowers themselves could have produced them." Printmaking was a signature art form in Woodstock. Rohland contributed prints to Hervey White's publication, The Plowshare, as well as to Woodstock's satirical publication, Hue and Cry.
Later career and legacy
Rohland exhibited regularly with the Woodstock Artists Association, Society of Independent Artists, Salons of America, the Carnegie Institute, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. He also had one-man shows, notably in 1939 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. When Rohland traveled for his work, Juliana Force, who would become the first director of the new Whitney Museum of American Art, sometimes handled his exhibitions and sales through the Whitney Studio Club and Whitney Gallery, where Rohland began exhibiting in 1927. He showed at the Whitney Museum's first Biennial in 1932. He continued to participate in Whitney Museum exhibitions through 1942.
The Great Depression severely affected his art sales, but Rohland managed to secure three commissions from the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts for post office murals. He executed The Union of the Mountains, for Mount Union, PA, (1937); Dogwood and Azaleas, for Decatur, GA (1938); and Louisiana Bayou, for Ville Platte, LA (1939).
In 1942, Rohland's chronic asthma worsened, and the couple packed up their Ford Model A and left Woodstock, traveling south to Washington, DC, with their final destination Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Woodstock artist,Andrew Dasburg was active. From 1942 to 1945, Rohland exhibited yearly in the annual exhibition of Painters and Sculptors of the Southwest; hence, he is often considered a "western" artist. In El Palacio, August 1943, Alfred Morang remarked that Rohland's watercolor, Southern Mansion, "possesses solidity beneath the flickering splashes of color. The drawing is in accord with the short-hand nature of this most difficult of mediums."
In 1945, finding Santa Fe too cold, Rohland and his wife moved to Sierra Madre, CA, where he painted mountain landscapes and worked on his engravings. Rohland died in Los Angeles, September 29, 1949. Many references erroneously give his death date as 1953.
"askART 2020". askART.
1900 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Paul H. Roland [sic]
Virginia Artists Series No. 5, PAUL ROHLAND, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, January 21-February 4, 1939. Original located in the Rohland Papers in the Valentine Museum archives, Richmond, VA. See also Richmond Times Dispatch, “Rohland’s One Man Show,” Friday, January 20, 1939, p. 16, Newspapers.com. See also “In Quest of Harmony: The Founding Years of the Woodstock Artists Association, 1919-1925,” June 1, 2019, No. 1 of Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM) Lecture Series, Part II: Woodstock Art Colony: The Nascent Years 1900-1930, by Bruce Weber, PhD.
New York Times,“Fakirs’ Picture Show Open to Public To-Day,” April 17, 1906, p. 6, Newspapers.com.
Oral history contributed by Frank O. Rohland, nephew.
Art Students League transcript #590, dated November 11, 1910. Art Students League Archives, 215 West 57thSt. New York, NY, 10019.
Bennard Perlman, Robert Henri, His Life and His Art, Dover Publications, 1991, p. 150.
Tom Wolf, "Historical Survey," Woodstock's Art Heritage, Overlook Press, 1987, p. 19-20. See also Bruce Weber, WAAM lecture, June 1, 2019.
Milton Brown, The Story of the Armory Show, The Hirschhorn Foundation, 1963, p. 285.
New York Times, “Art Notes,” Wednesday, November 19, 1913, p. 9, Newspapers.com. See also Record of the Carnegie Institute’s international Exhibitions 1896-1996, Sound View Press, 1998, p. 286.
New York State Marriage Index 1881-1967, Certificate # 2083 November 1, 1918 [database on-line] Lehi, UT USA: 2017. Ancestry.com
Bruce Weber, WAAM lecture, June 1, 2019.
Peter A. Juley and Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
William Schack, Art and Argyrol, Sagamore Press, Inc., New York, NY, 1960, p. 110
Bruce Weber, WAAM Lecture, June 1,2019. See also The Brooklyn Daily Eagle,“Woodstock Art Colony Synonymous with Modernism,” Sunday, Nov. 4, 1923, p. 26, Newspapers.com.
Jean Paul Slusser, Essay on Paul Rohland published in The Arts June 1928, p. 357.
Peter Hastings Falk, Annual and Biennial Exhibition Record of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1918 – 1989, Sound View Press, Madison, CT 1991 p. 339, and Whitney Museum of American Art archives.
Marlene Park and Gerald Markowitz, Democratic Vistas, PO and Public Art in the New Deal, Temple University Press, 1984, pp. 206, 212, 226.
El Palacio catalogues 1942-1945.
El Palacio, August 1943, Vol. I p. 173.
Letter from Caroline Rohland to Florence and Konrad Cramer dated March 25, 1947, Archives of American Art.
Obituary in Santa Fe New Mexican, Thursday, September 29, p. 1, gives death date as September 28. California Death Index, 1940-1997 Ancestry.com, gives date as September 29, 1949.
Archives of American Art. Konrad and Florence Ballin Cramer Papers 1897-1968, Series 2 Correspondence 1900-1964.
Arts, The. June, 1928, Paul Rohland by Jean Paul Slusser, Woodstock Artists Association Archives, Woodstock, NY.
Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “Woodstock Art Colony Synonymous with Modernism,” Sunday, March 4, 1923, p. 26, Newspapers.com. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
Brown, Milton W. The Story of the Armory Show. Joseph Hirschhorn Foundation, 1988, New York. LCCN: 63-13496.
California Death Index. 1940-1997, Ancestry.com.
El Palacio Catalogues. (1941-1945) School of American Research, Museum of New Mexico.
Falk, Peter Hastings. Annual and Biennial Exhibition Record of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1918—1989 Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1991.
Hewett, Edgar L. "Background of the Exhibition," El Palacio, Vol. I, No. 8, August 1943.
Homer, William Innes. Robert Henri and His Circle. Cornell University Press, Inc., Ithaca and London, 1969. LCCN: 75-81594.
Marling, Karal A. Woodstock, an American Art Colony. Vassar College Art Gallery, January 23 – March 4, 1977, Hamilton Reproductions, Poughkeepsie, NY, LCCN: 76-54371.
Marlor, Clark S. The Salons of America, 1922-1936. Sound View Press, 1985.
New York Times. "Art Notes," Wednesday, November 19, 1913, p. 9, Newspapers.com. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
New York Times. "Fakir's Picture Show Open to Public To-Day," Tuesday, April 17, 1906, p. 6, Newspapers.com. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
Park, Marlene, and Gerald Markowitz. New Deal for Art. Gallery Association of New York State, Inc., New York, 1977. LCCN: 76-531-59.
Richmond Times Dispatch. "The Arts," "Museum to hold preview of Rohland's One-Man Show," Friday, January 20, 1939, p. 16. Newspapers.com. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
Record of the Carnegie Institute's International Exhibitions 1896-1996. Sound View Press, Madison, CT, 1998.
Santa Fe New Mexican. "Santa Fe Artist Dies on West Coast," Thursday, September 29, 1949. Newspapers.com. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
Schack, William. Art and Argyrol. Sagamore Press, New York, 1960. LCCN: 60-6835.
United States Census, 1900, Ancestry.com.
Weber, Bruce. Woodstock Artists Association and Museum Lecture Series, Part II: The Woodstock Colony: The Nascent Years 1900-1930. June 1-September 7, 2020.
Woodstock Artists Association. Woodstock's Art Heritage, The Permanent Collection of the Woodstock Artists Association. Historical Survey by Tom Wolf. Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1987. ISBN 0-87951-294-6.
Oral History contributed by Frank O. Rohland, nephew of the artist.
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