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Count Berthold Von Imhoff: Prairie Painter

The Story

Count Berthold Von Imhoff, a German immigrant to St. Walburg, Sask., painted exquisite religious murals and frescoes in churches across the province from 1913 to 1939. He transformed sparse walls and ceilings into works of art. Most of the time, he didn't charge the poor parishes for his expensive materials or labour. In this CBC Radio interview, Imhoff enthusiast Ray Penner discusses how Imhoff made the prairie churches of Saskatchewan his masterpiece.

Medium: Radio
Program: Morningside
Broadcast Date: Nov. 19, 1991
Guest(s): Ray Penner
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 9:58

Did You know?

• Count Berthold John Von Imhoff was born in Mannheim, Germany, in 1868. From an early age, Imhoff showed a keen aptitude for the arts.


• In 1884, Imhoff won the Art Academy Award of Berlin for his painting The Glory of Emperor Frederick.

• In 1891, Imhoff married Matilde Johner. They would have nine children together.


• One year later, in 1892, Imhoff immigrated to Reading, Pa. Imhoff enjoyed great success, winning private commissions to paint churches and private homes.

• Imhoff used only the best paints and canvases for his works of art. To achieve a golden lustre, he used more than 10,000 gold leaves to cover a one-inch area. His son later recalled, "Every painting he did three times - three layers of paint." (Virtual Saskatchewan).


• In 1913, Imhoff moved north to Saskatchewan and settled in what is today St. Walburg, Sask.

• In 1937, Pope Pius XI bestowed the knighthood of St. Gregory the Great on Imhoff for his religious artwork.


• In 1939, Imhoff suffered a stroke and died at his home in St. Walburg, at the age of 71. At the time of his death, Imhoff left behind 200 paintings in his studio. Imhoff's son Carl opened the studio to the public. In 1983, the collection was moved to the Barr Colony Museum Buildng in Weaver Park, Sask. In 2005, the provincial government declared Imhoff's studio a provincial heritage site.

• On May 18, 1998, a life-sized statue of Imhoff was unveiled in St. Walburg. The statue - of Imhoff riding a horse - was created by local artist Susan Velder.



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