Peter C. Rotier (1887 - 1963)

Birth date: 11/5/1887 Death date: 1963  
Birth location: Baldwin, Wisconsin Death location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin  
Media: Drawing , Graphic Art , Mural , Painting Web site:
Comprehensive (file rating) - Major Wisconsin artist file that includes comprehensive documentation on artist's life that can be researched on site at MWA.


Peter C. Rotier
Born 1887 in Baldwin, Wisconsin
Died 1963 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Peter Rotier was a Milwaukee painter, commercial artist and teacher well-known for his oil and watercolor paintings of wild life and Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine landscape. Rotier studied art from 1903-1906 at the Wisconsin School of Art which was maintained by the Art Students League of Milwaukee under the guidance of Richard Lorenz, Alexander Mueller and George Raab.  During his early years he also did part-time scenic painting for theater stock companies that came to Milwaukee and Chicago. In 1918, he attended the Milwaukee State Teachers College and studied under George Oberteuffer before moving on to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1919.  In 1920, he studied under, and was most influenced by, Robert Henri at the Art Students League in New York.

In 1920, Rotier decided to travel west, and to earn money he took on numerous odd jobs as a house and sign painter, telephone linesman, hotel clerk, cook, ranch hand, farmer and miner.  In 1924, he married Mildred Langland, but by the early 1930s he was back in Milwaukee where he attended the Milwaukee Art Institute. In 1935, during the Depression, he was one of seven artists to work on a Federal Art Project in Key West, Florida.  This was followed by the completion of two Post Office murals in Wisconsin:  The Rural Mail Carrier in West Bend, and Wisconsin Rural Scene in Mayville.  He also worked as a commercial artist in the early 1930s for the Milwaukee Journal Art Department.  In 1941, when the U.S. entered WWII, Peter Rotier enlisted and served with the American Expeditionary Force, and later did a series of cartoons depicting everyday life of the 120th Field Artillery Division. These cartoons later became part of the Milwaukee Art Institute Collection.

Mirroring his itinerant student days, as a teacher Rotier taught at the Milwaukee Art Institute, Chicago Art Institute, Layton School of Art and at UW-Milwaukee.  Although his primary residence was in Milwaukee he often painted in the Holy Hill, Kettle Moraine area where he owned a century old cabin and studio.  He was a founding member of the Wisconsin Watercolor Society and was also a member of the Society of Milwaukee Artists (later known as the Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors), the American Watercolor Society, and the Rockport Art Association.  His works are represented in the collections of the Milwaukee Art Institute, The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the West Bend Art Museum and the City of Milwaukee Permanent Collection.     .

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

1937 Watercolors by Peter Rotier, Milwaukee Art Institute
1955 Wisconsin Watercolor Society Exhibition., Bressler Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Selected Group Exhibitions

1928 Watercolor Exhibition by Local Artists, Milwaukee Art Institute
1924-1931  Milwaukee Journal Gallery of Wisconsin Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1939 Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors 19th Annual Exhibition, Milwaukee Art Institute 
A Century Plus of Wisconsin Watercolors, Racine Art Association at
 the Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin (know known as the Racine Art Museum)
 Celebration 100: A Century of Alumni Art, UW -Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1985  150 Years of Wisconsin Printmaking, Elvehjem Museum of Art, UW-Madison
50th Anniversary Exhibition of the Wisconsin Watercolor Society, West Bend Art Museum, West Bend, Wisconsin.
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
  • Flickr icon
  • Youtube icon
  • E-News icon