Heinrich Bodmer - Portrait of Mathilde Pfyffer Von Altishofen - 1884 - Winckelmann Gallery

Heinrich Bodmer - Portrait of Mathilde Pfyffer Von Altishofen - 1884

Superb oil painting representing a portrait of Mathilde Barbara Georgina Pfyffer von Altishofen, née Segesser von Brunegg (1842 – 1903). She was the spouse of Alphons Maximilian Pfyffer von Altishofen, illustrious Swiss military officer and architect. Her father, Eduard Segesser von Brunnegg, was a Swiss infantry colonel and architect. She married in 1862 and was mother to 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys.

Her husband, Alphons Max Pfyffer, was born in Lucerne’s Altishofen Castle in 1834. He studied at Munich’s Polythechnicum with the view of becoming an architect. He enters the Naples service with Lucerne’s Moor regiment in 1852. In 1856 he becomes sub lieutenant and in 1860 lieutenant. He takes part in the combats and siege of Naples. In 1864 he returns to Switzerland with the grade of captain. With his father-in-law he builds the Luzernerhof Hotel in 1864 and the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne opened in 1870. In 1875 he is named federal colonel and in 1884, he becomes federal bureau chief of staff. He died in 1890. (Source: Revue Militaire Suisse, 1890).

This painting was commissioned and painted in 1884, year that Pfyffer was named federal bureau chief of staff. Here the sitter is 42 years old and poses with a teal dress, lace and black shawl. A black choker with pendant and gold earrings complete her attire. A very elegant portrait.

Heinrich Bodmer (Zurich, 1814- Zurich, 1901) was a Swiss painter, lithographer and copper engraver. He was raised in very poor conditions and fought economic hardships throughout his life. Until his 23rd year he earned his living working in a factory, but then was fortunate enough to study art under a couple of accomplished artists and soon managed to support himself by creating portraits in chalk and later in oil. In addition, he also produced a large number of aquatint landscape etchings for Zurich publishers and scientific publications. A large number of chalk and oil portraits and lithographs are or have been attributed to him. He travelled only once to Munich (1868), spending his entire life in Zurich, where he died in 1901. His works are found in private collections, in the Zurich Art Society (Kunsthaus Zürich) collection and the copper engraving collection at the Zurich Polytechnic Institute.

Winckelmann Gallery is very pleased to announce that the sitter, Mathilde Pfyffer Von Altishofen, has made her way back with her family, 123 years after her image was captured by this very talented artist.


Artist: Heinrich Bodmer (1814-1901).
Signed and dated: H. Bodmer, 1884 on bottom left.
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Condition: Very good condition. Recently cleaned and restored. Original octagonal stretcher.
Dimensions: 66.5 x 57.5 cm. / 21 x 22 1/2 in.
Frame: Sold without frame.
Origin: France.


Back to blog