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Franz Hoepfner

Epithet: Artist (1840-1893)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Franz Höpfner/ Hoepfner served as a sergeant in the Prussian army in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1) where he saw action at the siege of Paris.

He moved to England in the 1870s, marrying Bessey Strawbridge in Bristol in 1879. Höpfner came to the Isle of Man in 1886 under commission from Mr Bregazzi of Duke Street, Douglas. Soon after he completed a series of paintings of Manx views intended for an art exhibition on the Island. These eventually went to the Derby Castle Company and were exhibited at the Derby Castle Pavilion. Höpfner lived and had his studio in Victoria Terrace, Douglas.

By the time of his death in 1893 he was living in Liverpool with a studio in the Temple, Dale Street. Considered as having a volatile personality and known to carry a revolver, Höpfner did in fact challenge to a duel the doctor he held responsible for his wife’s death. As a result Höpfner was arrested, shortly after which he committed suicide.

Höpfner had become a well-known artist on the Island but also in London, Liverpool and on the continent.

His obituary ran:
He was a man of remarkable but eccentric genius, and in his habits was a pronounced Bohemian. As a colourist he had but few equals, and his pictures commanded a ready sale. In decorative art he attained extraordinary skill…He had an astonishing fund of varied information, and was a brilliant conversationalist on almost any subject under the sun.
Isle of Man Examiner, 6 May 1893.

Höpfner was one of a number of artists on the Isle of Man whose work helped serve the Island’s tourist industry. Together with John Holland, Höpfner produced large canvases intended to decorate the walls of the new music halls, ballrooms and hotels that were being built in Douglas. He decorated the interior of the original Palace Pavilion and produced a series of canvases for the Derby Castle and the Central Hotel. Of the decoration of the Palace Pavilion:

'Mr Höpfner aimed at harmony of colour and design, coupled with real artistic effect…The background is a gorgeous representation of an Eastern garden scene, with temple, statuary, fountains, and beautiful surroundings.'

Isle of Man Times, 20 May 1893.

Occupation / profession: Artist

Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1840

Place of birth: Germany

Date of death: 1893

Place of death: Liverpool, England

Name Variant: Höpfner, Franz


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