Dubbed as the “Wizard of Scenic Creation”, John Rettig was best known for his set designs, creating many open-air pageants in Cincinnati, North Africa, and Mexico. The son of a German beer brewer, John was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He took an interest in art at an early age, beginning to paint frescos when he was just fifteen. He studied at the McMicken School of Drawing and Design
(a division of the University of Cincinnati) and graduated in 1881. He later studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati under Frank Duveneck and Henry Potthast before traveling to Europe to study in Paris with Collin and Courtois. As an artist, he was a painter, sculptor, muralist, and theatrical set designer. With his younger brother and fellow artist, Martin, he decorated and modeled Rookwood Pottery. In 1903, he traveled back to Europe and spent most of his time in Northern Holland, in a fishing village named Volendam, which later became his second home. John was the president of the Cincinnati Art Club from 1890 to 1892 and again from 1908 to 1910. He passed away, in Cincinnati, at the age of 75. His paintings are on display in private and public collections around the world.
Various Members of the Warren County Historical Society