Born in 1900, Varlin decided he had had enough of Switzerland at about the age of 20 and left for Berlin where he became a painter. He then moved to Paris, remaining there a dozen or so years despite the difficulty of earning enough money to keep body and soul together. When the owner of the gallery in which he usually exhibited his work died, Varlin returned to Zurich. But even in Switzerland he did not feel particularly welcome or at home in any way. The war over, his paintings seemed very much out of place in the cosy, unruffled world of post-war Switzerland. Varlin began to travel extensively, while continuing to paint. Eventually he decided to settle at Bergell in canton Grisons, where a significant portion of his work of later years, in terms of both quality and quantity, was completed. He died in 1977.