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Count Berthold Von Imhoff, artist, painted the interior of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

In a castle rising from the wooded banks of the river Rhine, Germany, is where Berthold Imhoff was born in 1868. At the early age of seven, his paintings echoed the beauty of the countryside of the Rhineland. He studied art at schools in Halle and Dusseldorf acquiring unique ways of expressing his talent with dark colours and strong contrasts.

At 16 years of age Berthold Imhoff’s painting of Germany’s Prince Frederick William won the Berlin Art Academy Award. For this painting he was offered $3000.00 but refused it. At the age of 24 he left his native homeland to settle in Reading, PA.  He travelled throughout the eastern United States, painting murals and frescoes inpublic buildings, churches and in homes.

Berthold Imhoff married Mathilda Johner in Philadelphia. They had a family of nine children. His wife was a very helpful critic of her husband’s work.

In early 1914 he joined a group of settlers who were bound to the northwest frontier of Saskatchewan. Here he hoped to find an isolated spot where he could concentrate on his art. This area is now known as St. Walburg.

Berthold Imhoff was a personal friend of Abbot Bruno Doerfler, OSB, the first abbot of St. Peter’s Abbey. Imhoff decorated the sanctuary with its 80 life-size figures as a personal gift to Abbot Bruno. For the painting of the body of the church Mr. Imhoff asked for payment of $3000.00. One of Mr. Imhoff’s inspirations was to put the faces of living monks of the abbey onto some of the saints. Thus the face of St. Paul, above the southeast pillar, is a portrait of Abbot Bruno who died June 12, 1919, the week when the interior was completed. Some other facial images that he used were of Revs. Bernard Schaeffler, Peter Windschiegl and Chrysostom Hoffmann. Mr. Imhoff started his painting in the St. Peter’s Church in January 1919 and completed it by June 1919.

Mr. Imhoff covered many a canvas with his talent in his lavishly decorated studio in St. Walburg. Many churches are enriched with his religious paintings. In 1934 he returned to St. Peter’s Cathedral to repaint what needed repainting. The year of 1937 he was knighted by Pope Pius X1 for his outstanding work in the churches of North America. He decorated over 112 buildings which included churches, opera houses, fraternal halls, public buildings and private homes. Another one of his great paintings is of the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary for the Holy Rosary Church in Reward, Saskatchewan.

In 1939 Mr. Imhoff died at his home in St. Walburg at the age of 71, leaving behind well over 200 paintings in his studio alone. None of these paintings were sold but were displayed in the St. Walburg studio which was cared for by his son Carl and his family. The Imhoff art collection was moved  to Lloydminster in 1983 and housed in the Barr Colony Museum building in Weaver Park. His art studio is one of the outstanding tourist attractions of northwest Saskatchewan.

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