Hans Holtorf

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Hans Holtorf (born June 29, 1899 in Friedrichstadt ; † June 26, 1984 in Bockholmwik ) was a German theater founder , writer and painter .


Holtorf went to the cathedral school in Schleswig and decided early on to become a painter. He studied in Kiel and Munich and became interested in Greek mythology and culture at an early age .

Holtorf was married to Agathe geb. Dethlefsen and had two children, Gyde and Arne.

Founder of a theater company

In 1920 he founded the free theater company Masken-Wagen of the Holtorf troupe in Heide , which consisted of about 20 male and 8 female twenty-year-old actors . Famous theater people and actors later emerged from it (including Ernst Ginsberg , Mathias Wieman , Veit Harlan , Erwin Parker , Werner Finck , Oskar von Schab , Ruth Hellberg , Dora Gerson or Annette de Fries ).

With pieces like the Lübeck dance of death or with works by Büchner , Wedekind or Shakespeare , they traveled through Germany and Denmark for months. With their modern, expressionistic style, they were quite successful. In 1925, the troupe in Düsseldorf disbanded due to a lack of money.


With his Danish wife Agathe he discovered the comedy work of the Danish Ludvig Holberg . Together they translated the comedy Jeppe vom Berge for the masked car . They later translated all 32 works of this “Danish Molière ” into German.


Hans Holtorf, spring 1980

Holtorf studied art history under Heinrich Wölfflin in Munich and the popular Art Nouveau under Richard Riemerschmid at the Königliche Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich . Both influenced Holtorf's early graphic work, which was characterized by formal expressionism and Art Nouveau. He also designed the modern stage sets for his theater company.

Hans Holtorf, Evening on the Fjord 1965

Holtorf developed quite differently into a romantic impressionist in his main and later works . In his small, self-built house in Bockholmwik, he became the artistic role model and center of many landscape painters from 1935 onwards as the “Painter of the Baltic Sea” .

He had a friendship with his teacher and painter friend Niko Wöhlk .

The "world of the Greeks"

Late in his life, in 1956, he embarked on a study trip "to the source of European art" in his beloved Greece . The Dithmarsch painter Willi Graba accompanied him. He studied in Athens and Olympia what he believed to be the most important sculptor Pheidîas . He came back with lots of sketches and an unpublished story, Olympic Fantasies . In 1959 he published his Greek sketchbook . In his late work he worked on a Seated Zeus for the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and on his Confession of Art Aesthetics (188 pages, unpublished).


"Hans Holtorf and the masked wagon of the Holtorf troop (1920-1925)".

Awards and honors


  • Youth between painting and theater. Memoirs 1899-1937 , 304 pp., Schleswig, 1980.
  • Greek sketchbook , Hamburg, 1959.
  • Praise God and paint, letters from the painter Nikolaus Wöhlk with 16 picture reproductions , 88 pages, Wolfshagen-Scharbeutz, 1955


  • Wilhelm C. Hambach, Hans Holtorf - Painter in Schleswig-Holstein , Schleswig, 1976.
  • Nissenhaus Husum, Hans Holtorf, oil - watercolors - graphics of the years 1917 - 1971, appreciation of the work and catalog for the exhibition on the 80th birthday , Husum, 1979, No. 15 of the writings of the Nissenhaus.
  • Annette Wittboldt, Hans Holtorf and the masked wagon of the Holtorf troop (1920-1925) , Heide, 2008.

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