Ernst Oppler was a pupil of Ludwig von Löfftz (1845-1910) at the academy of arts in Munich. Afterwards he moved to London to study James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) one of his favorit artists. 1901 he went to Holland to practise the pleinair method. From 1905 he lived in Berlin where he already appeared on the scene as a co-founder of the Berlin secession in 1898.
Until 1912 he regularly participated at the exhibitions of the Berlin secession. He mainly painted landscapes, interior views and portraits and he became a well known and much sought after portraitist.
From 1912 he devoted himself nearly completely to documetn the dancing performances of the Russian ballet which was very poplar at that time in Berlin. So he became one of the most important chroniclers of the history of ballet in Germany. From the master drawings he made during the performances he created expressive and skilfully worked out etchings. Later on he added scenes of the social life of the city of Berlin.
Oppler, who mainly followed the example set by Lovis Corinth (1858-1925), is regarded as a representative of the German Impressionism. Today his estate is part of the German Dancing Archives in Cologne.