Artists & Designers

Emilie Preyer (German, 1849–1930)

Emilie Preyer was born in 1849 to an established and respected art family in Düsseldorf, Germany. Her father, Johann Wilhelm Preyer, taught at the Düsseldorf Royal Academy of Art and was considered the leading still life painter in Germany in the 19th century. As women were not allowed to enroll in the Academy, Emilie became her father’s unofficial pupil. The Düsseldorf Academy hit its peak of success in the mid-1800s, when it was internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious art schools in Europe. Emilie dedicated herself exclusively to still-life painting and learned her father’s unique and meticulous draftsmanship. She received additional training with the history painter Heinrich Mücke and the landscape painter Hans Fredrik Gude, and traveled to Dresden, Antwerp, and the Netherlands to study art in their museums.

Preyer first exhibited at the age of 18, gaining international success by the time she was twenty-one. She was particularly popular among American and German collectors who valued her Biedermeier style: a genre of art favored by a growing middle-class in Central Europe and most often characterized by sentimental genre scenes. One of the most celebrated women artists in Germany, her success provided her financial stability that was extremely rare for women artists at the time. Preyer is best known for her highly detailed oil paintings that depict arrays of fruit, nuts, and wine, notable for her sensitive rendering of light effects. Preyer’s production declined after her father’s death in 1889, though she is thought to have completed around 250 paintings by the time of her death in 1930.

Excerpt from

Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.

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