Robert Wehrlin

english version

Robert Wehrlin was born in Winthertur, Switzerland, on the 8th of March, 1903. His father, a pastor and later a journalist and district councillor, was from Bischofszell in the district of Thurgovie and his mother from the district of Berne. Wehrlin was brought up in a strict bourgeois family which hardly earmarked him for an artistic career. After passing his school leaving certificate his mother wanted him to study law. He joined the Vitodurania, a group of students in Winthertur and was to remain in contact with his fiends of that period for the rest of his life. He even painted several portraits of one of these friends, Hans Rüegg, who went on to be the local mayor.

Robert Wehrlin in 1960

In 1923

In 1913

1956 with Jacques

1935 in Provence

1957 with H.U.Saas, Germaine
and Jacques in Sanary


Rudolf Koella, curator of the Winthertur Museum and author of the monograph on Wehrlin in the Ides et Calendes publications in Neuchâtel recollects that, throughout his youth, the artist remained marked by the cultural and artistic atmosphere that reigned in his native town. Even in those days Winthertur could boast of numerous treasures in its many museums, including the famous Reinhart and Hahneloser collections.
Good at drawing, no doubt, but nothing could foretell an artistic vocation in Wehrlin and even less so a rapid evolution towards expressionism.
The big impact in his life was undoubtedly the meeting, in Davos, with the German expressionist painter : Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

How did this meeting take place ?

In 1922, Wehrlin’s mother, suffering from tuberculosis of the lung, had to leave Winthertur and go to Davos for treatment. It was during one of his first visits to his mother that he made acquaintance with Kirchner. He continued studying law for another two years in Germany, but each successive meeting with Kirchner brought him closer to painting. At the time, Kirchner was readily having young Swiss artists visit him in his studio and even allowing them to become involved in working sessions. Kirchner was to paint three portraits of Wehrlin, two wood etchings and an oil painting.


Davos ca. 1926

Wehrlin by Kirchner
Wood etching - 1924

Wehrlin photografied by Kirchner
ca. 1923

Wehrlin by Kirchner
Oil painting 1924