Adolf Rettelbusch

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Adolf Rettelbusch, self-portrait (oil on cardboard), 1925

Johann Adolf Rettelbusch (born December 15, 1858 in Kammerforst , † January 8, 1934 in Magdeburg ) was a German painter. He is nicknamed Brocken painter .

Live and act

Rettelbusch was born as the eighth child of a host family. He attended the village school from 1865 to 1873, then the secondary school in Nordhausen until 1878 and then went to Weimar to the Grand Ducal Art School . Theodor Hagen and Alexander Struys were among his teachers . He mainly devoted himself to landscape painting. After he had to break off his studies for financial reasons, he passed a drawing teacher exam in Berlin in 1880 and 1881 with Karl Gussow at the Royal Academy of the Arts .

Nevertheless, he remained unemployed. For two years he returned to Kammerforst and did odd jobs. From 1883 he completed an apprenticeship in landscape, portrait and decorative painting with Max Friedrich Koch , Ernst Ewald and Ernst Schaller at the teaching institute of the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin , financed by a generous scholarship . He received various awards.

Lady with white dress

In 1886 and 1887 Adolf Rettelbusch went on a study trip to Italy . The drawings and watercolors he made there led to an offer from Prussia. Ministry of Commerce and Industry to Rettelbusch to take on a position as a teacher for decorative and general painting at the Magdeburg School of Applied Arts and Crafts . Rettelbusch agreed and in 1887 became a teacher and later deputy rector of the school that was newly opened with a reformed study program under Eduard Spieß . For a short time in 1892 Rettelbusch was provisional director of the school. In 1906 Rettelbusch was appointed professor; he stayed at this school until his retirement in 1924.

Rettelbusch was involved in the cultural life of the city of Magdeburg. In 1893 he founded the St. Lukas artists' association , which he directed for many years. In 1912 he was one of the founders of the Börde artists' association . For a long time he also worked on the board of directors of the Magdeburg Art Association . He was also a member of the Masonic lodge "Ferdinand zur Glückseligkeit".

Artistic creation

Memorial stone on the Brocken

Around 1925, Adolf Rettelbusch had earned a reputation as the most important landscape painter in Central Germany. A special focus of his work has been, since an ascent of the Brocken in 1887, the Harz and the Brocken . This earned him the name Brockenmaler .

However, Rettelbusch also created various interior designs in churches, restaurants, castles and manor houses in Magdeburg and the surrounding area. He mastered the entire range of painting techniques. While at the beginning he mainly used the watercolor technique, he then turned to tempera painting and later to oil pastel drawing . From around 1914 he began with pastel painting and developed into one of the best pastel painters of his time.

He created portraits, plant studies, pictures from agriculture, but also from industry ( Krupp-Gruson-Werk ). Many works were created on trips abroad (e.g. Italy 1886/87, Spain 1893, on the Nordlandfahrt 1909, in the Alps in 1914). Other works deal with the First World War .


In 1928 he was made an honorary citizen of Kammerforst. The city of Magdeburg named a street in his honor ( Rettelbuschweg ).


  • Painting in the and memorial stone at the church of Kammerforst
  • About 4000 larger works were created. Some of these are in the Magdeburg Cultural History Museum . Several hundred are privately owned.
  • Illustrations in the 1926 publication Das Brockenbuch
  • Many works also hang in the Rennstieg Hotel Rettelbusch in Kammerforst, which is still owned by the family today.


  • Matthias Puhle: (Ed.): Adolf Rettelbusch - Landschaftsbilder . Magdeburg 1998 (not evaluated)
  • Gerd Kley: Adolf Rettelbusch. In: Guido Heinrich, Gunter Schandera (ed.): Magdeburg Biographical Lexicon 19th and 20th centuries. Biographical lexicon for the state capital Magdeburg and the districts of Bördekreis, Jerichower Land, Ohrekreis and Schönebeck. Scriptum, Magdeburg 2002, ISBN 3-933046-49-1 .
  • Gerd Kley: From Hainich to Brocken - Stations in the Life of the Magdeburg Painter Professor Adolf Rettelbusch (1858–1934). Bad Langensalza 2010, ISBN 978-3-86777-153-5 .

Web links

Commons : Adolf Rettelbusch  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Gerd Kley on Eduard Spieß in Magdeburger Biographisches Lexikon, 2002, page 694