Theodor Rochell
1854 - 1933

A German Artist on the Western Front

self portrait of the artist


Theodor Rochell was a well-known military painter in Germany, winning fame and reknown in that area. He first studied art and painting in Dresden, Munich and Dusseldorf, later living in various German cities as well as in Saint Petersburg Russia.

He became an accredited master painter in 1880 and soon after, in 1884, started a career as illustrator of military scenes. In 1897 he followed the armies into the field during the Turkish-Greek war and in 1900 at the express request of Kaiser Wilhelm, joined the German forces taking part in the expeditionary corps sent to quel the Boxer Rebellion in China. During his stay in China he finished few works of a military nature, depicting instead landscapes, buildings and other aspects of life in this exotic country. Afterwards in 1910-1911 he particpated as illustrator in the Turkish-Albanian war.

As many other artists during the Great War, despite his age, he saw service and produced many fine paintings and watercolors of life in and behind the front line trenches. After the war, the demand for military artwork somewhat understandibly fell in and Rochell turned to depicting rural and bucholic scenes, specializing in horses. He died in 1933 as a result of a traffic accident.

The following paintings and aquarells of Theordor Rochell were published in a book of war-time art early in the war, before incessant and industrial scale destruction turned the front-line areas into unrecognizable landscapes of desolation, mud and death. These works give a somewhat idyllic and oddly peaceful impression of life in the German army in 1915 in the occupied territories of France. Trenches are still rudimentary compared to later years and towns, villages and houses, while uninhabitable, are not yet the completely destroyed buildings they would become afterwards. The landscapes are still full of trees and forests and even battlefields that were heavily contested in 1915, such as Notre Dame de Lorette, la Bassée and Neuve Chapelle, still appear relatively untouched and rural. After having viewed the following collection of works by Theodor Rochell, it is easy to see how he made the transition from military painter to depictor of rural landscapes and farm life after the Great War.


an improvised field-kitchen

to a Gallery of Works
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