Emil Pfeifer (1913-1978)
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About the painter and his oeuvre

Emil Pfeifer was born in Lengwil-Illighausen in the canton of Thurgau on March 12, 1913. He grew up and attended the schools in Zürich. On October 30, 1939, he married Regina Inderbitzin from Brunnen, canton of Schwyz and they remained married until his death. They had three sons (*1940, *1942, *1953). The family lived in Zürich until 1954 and then moved to Egg near Zürich, where he passed away on May 29, 1978.


He was trained as a painter during a three year apprenticeship in Zürich, where he attended in addition the School of Arts. In the spring of 1933, Emil Pfeifer started his autodidactic studies of the art. The great economic crisis of the 1930s and uncertainty prevailing on the eve of the Second World War meant that he lacked the means to travel abroad.


The painter and his family in Altstetten (Zürich)
The painter at work in his atelier in Egg near Zürich


A passion for the beaux-arts

The paintings of Emil Pfeifer reveal his passion for great perfection. He remained true to his passion for beauty and aesthetics, not allowing himself to be influenced by other fashionable trends in painting. He produced around 300 masterpieces in the form of oils, watercolours, chalk pastels, oil pastels, pencil drawings and red and green pencil drawings. In his early days as an artist he also employed other techniques such as pen and ink, lithography and tempera. His works cover all areas of painting and are of the highest quality. His impressive versatility means that he cannot be put in any one specific painting category. His subjects include landscapes, portraits, nudes, seascapes, animals, flowers and still life. His oeuvre is fine art of the first order, and is up there with the works of the Old Masters.


He was also a highly accomplished painter of furniture. However, as he felt folk art and rural painting to be dilettantish, he also put his own stamp on this style, raising it to fine art.


The abandoned atelier after the death of the painter


A middle-class life free from scandal but touched by uncertainty

During the Second World War Emil Pfeifer began to work as a self-employed painter of pictures and letterings of advertising panels and shop windows. But the artist in him progressively took over and he began painting pictures from his own imagination, which he and his wife sold to private individuals. He also painted by order of clients, especially portrait paintings. He also painted smaller, simpler works at low prices to provide a regular income. Assisted by his wife, he earned a modest income for his family without any support from patrons of art or government grants.

Emil Pfeifer mastered a remarkable variety of painting techniques as is evident from his rich and prolific oeuvre. His exceptional talent and quest for perfection have led him create unique masterpieces.



The couple Pfeifer with a prospective woman customer

A Swiss painter worthy of exploration

Most of Emil Pfeifer's works are privately owned in Switzerland. It is not known whether certain works of unknown location are in the possession of collectors or museums. A number of works are still in the possession of the family. Others are in a privat collection.


There is a catalogue of over 350 works. They are documented in detail, with photos, information about the creation and current owners, where these are known. A greater number of them have also been digitalised in professional studios (with a 1:1 scanner or special cameras) and stored on suitable media. Documentation also includes a large number of items once owned by the painter, including drawings and watercolours by his ancestors.



The published illustrated book "100 Schweizer Fine Art Kunstwerke" (ISBN 978-3-033-03531-7) shows a cross section of the painter's oeuvre and documents well that Emil Pfeifer was undoubtedly one of the most versatile fine artist of Switzerland.                     

                                                                                  book order


Schweiz / Suisse / Switzerland
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