Born in Detroit, Julius Rolshoven enrolled at the Cooper Union Art School in 1876. Two-years later, he studied at the Düsseldorf Academy under Hugo Crola, a portraitist. He then went on to study under Ludwig con Löfftz in Munich and became one of the "Duveneck Boys," before spending some time in Venice and Florence. He moved to Paris and continued his art studies at the Académie Julian and work he shipped from Paris ended up on the walls of the National Academy for their annual exhibitions of 1885 and 1889. Rolshoven moved to a castle near Florence, Castello del Diavolo, and practiced portrait and genre painting. In 1910, he ventured to Africa and later executed a series of Tunisian paintings.
In 1916, Rolshoven discovered another exotic area, Taos, New Mexico. In Taos, he set up a studio and painted Southwestern Indian themes, for which he is well known. He was elected an associate of the Taos Society of Artists in 1917. His studio was established at the Palace of the Governors and often painted portraits of the local pueblo Indians who came to the plaza. He painted with the traditional techniques he had learned in Europe, but often painted outdoors or under a white tent to shield his work from the harsh light. His work was known for the skillful use of pastels, and the bold brushwork of his oil painting that depicted his subjects in elegant pose. Rolshoven's work is now scarce and difficult to find. His art is in collections at the Smithsonian Institution and the University of New Mexico, among others.