Otto Pfeiffer 1882 - 1955



By Werner H.O.Gerth


(Mulhouse, 5 november 1882 - Sarreguemines, 6 november 1955). Otto Pfeiffer was a painter from the Alsace, during his Childhood German and nowadays French Territory Otto Pfeiffer's style of work represents the Central European romantic style. Due of the fascination for the natural world Otto Pfeiffer painted after nature, in nature. Thus the majority of his paintings depict images of nature. I the beginning of his professional paintingcareer Otto Pfeiffer specialized in the classic fine glazing technique.

In later years this evolved towards a more impressionist brush stroke. Aside from his paintingcareer Otto Pfeiffer designed crystal glasswork and the designs upon them. He established a design studio for crystal glasswork where he employed other artisans. The Otto Pfeiffer Museum in Freusburg, the birthplace of his mother, represents the art of Otto Pfeiffer. In the museum a number of the products that were designed and made in his studio, are on exhibition.

A great many works of Otto Pfeiffer are part of private collections and work by Otto Pfeiffer are part of the collections exhibited in several musea worldwide.

His Life:

Otto Pfeiffer was born in 1882 in Mulhousen. At the time German territory, presently a part of France. At the age of four, he developed a passion for drawing and spent so much time on it that it irritated his father tremendously. His father thought it desirable that young Otto spent more time with other children, playing outside in the fresh air instead of spending his time inside drawing. As the years went by and Otto became more and more engulved in his drawing and painting, his father forbid him to continue these activities. Otto Pfeiffer however was not able to comply with his father's wishes and at the age of sixteen left home for Strassbourg to study at the academy of fine arts.In order to support himself he accepted and performed a great many tasks. After completion of his studies he went to Vienna.

Upon arriving he went immediately to the academy where he met Professor Klaus. Professor Klaus took Otto under his wings, as he recognized his enormous talent. Professor Klaus arranged employment for him in a factory where fabrics were made and designed. He was offered a good salary which enabled him to have his fiancee join him in Vienna. He married her and three children were born; two sons, Walter and Willy and one daughter Margarethe. He became exhausted; during the day he worked in the factory, while at night he painted and worked for the academy. His health deteriorated and his physician adviced him to leave Vienna.During a trip through Czechoslowakia fate brought him to Haida, nowadays Novy Bor.

The beauty of the scenery touched his heart and he decided to make it his home. It was a tremendous change to move from the cosmopolitan Vienna to a small village in the country side. Upon arrival he established a new studio where he designed, produced and painted crystal glassware. The enterprise florished and made a very good reputation for itself. President Dr. Benes visited the studio and purchased some of the products that were made there. Other dignitaries and members of society followed suit and Otto Pfeiffer's reputation was firmly established. A Chef d'Atelier was employed, who took care of all the administrative duties, thus Otto Pfeiffer was able to concentrate on all the creative aspects of the studio.

This also gave him the freedom to concentrate more on his great passion: painting. In this period 1920-1930 he was incredibly productive and produced paintings that in retrospect proved to be important works of art.Specially the landscaped that he painted around Haida. When the founder of Czechoslowakian Republic, president Tomas Masaryk purchased his work, his name as a fine artist and painter was established. His daughter Margarethe organised exhibitions throughout Europe. Amongs others, just befor the outbreak of the second World War, in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. She organised it in the Victoria Hotel in Amsterdam.Within one week all works were sold.During this period Margarethe established a friendship with Henk Gerth, a Dutch painter, with whom eventually she married and she stayed the rest of her life in Amsterdam. In this marriage on son was born, Werner, the only grandchild of Otto Pfeiffer. Otto Pfeiffer visited the Netherlands frequently.

As was his custom, he painted a great many places like the IJsselmeer, the dunes and the aquarium at the Amsterdam Zoo "Artis". After the second World War the Russians had occupied Czechoslawakia. The political and social developement and situation there forced Otto Pfeiffer and his family into leaving his beloved Haida and take refuge in the Alsace, his anscestural home. Due to his reputation as designer and producer of crystalware he was offered a position at the "Kristallerie Lorraine". During his lifetime, Otto Pfeiffer travelled extensively, painted and exhibited his work throughout Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Czechoslowakia and the Netherlands.

His daughter Margarethe, dedicated her life to promoting and exhibiting her father's art. At a later stage in her life she concentrated all her efforts on buying keyworks from her father in order to establish a museum dedicated to his art. This she realised in 1996 in the Town of Freusburg, Germany, with the kind cooperation of the Foerderverein Freusburg.The museum also features paintings made by Henk Gerth, the son in law of Otto Pfeiffer. Margarethe passed on in 2007; after which her son Werner and his wife Marie Jeanne Isabelle have taken it upon themselves to continue the work started by Margarethe. Otto Pfeiffer passed away on the 6th of november 1955 and is buried in Sarreguemines, France.

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