Josef Klemens Kaufmann was best known for his military scenes and drawings of animals.
Born in Lucerne, Kaufmann moved to Geneva at the age of 16 to study art with the well-known painter and teacher Barthélemy Menn* at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Later he traveled on to Paris where he studied with Benjamin Constant, who encouraged his interest in painting animals.
Back in Lucerne, he also developed an interest in Military themes, and often accompanied troops on their exercises, drawing their manoeuvres from life. In some cases Kaufmann was even summoned by telegraph by military officers to draw new scenes on site.
After his studies, Kaufmann spent most of his life as an artist in Luzern where he had a studio on the Haldenstrasse. He was a founder of Lucern’s annual Christmas exhibit (Weihnachtsaustellung) and in 1906 was a founder of the Schweizerische Freie Kuenstlervereinigung (Secession). The city of Lucerne made him an honorary citizen.
Two exhibits in the early part of the century helped to promote his career. The first at the Bern Kunstmuseum in 1916, which displayed around 100 of his drawings. Four years later he received exposure on the other side of the Atlantic at a show at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York in 1920.
* The extraordinary Barthélemy Menn, a talented painter in his own right, is best known as a master who knew how to bring out the best talent in the other painters he taught and encouraged. Camille Corot called Menn ‘notre maître à tous.” Menn’s students in Geneva included the great Swiss masters Ferdinand Hodler and Edouard Vallet.
Works by Josef Klemens Kaufmann