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 Gordon Edward Pfeiffer  (1899 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada      Known for: landscape, waterscape, nudes, still life and genre painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
St. Pierre de L'Île d'Orléans
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Gordon Edward Pfeiffer was a well known Canadian painter. His works were frequently exhibited throughout his career and examples of it are in several important Canadian museums.

He was born in Quebec City where, other than for education and travel, he lived for the first half of his life.  He moved to Montreal in 1943 and lived there and in the suburb of Rosemere for most of the rest of his life. (1)

His mediums were oil, watercolor and pastel. His subjects were landscapes, farm life, city scenes, rivers, lakes, shorelines, snowscapes, mountains, nudes, still life, war and genre*. In addition to locations near his homes in Quebec, Pfeiffer’s oeuvre includes paintings from his travels to the Appalachians, England, France, Ireland, the Maritime Provinces, and Newfoundland. His styles were Realism* and Surrealism* (2). AskART have excellent illustrations of his work.

Pfeiffer’s education includes studies in business and chemistry at the University of Rochester (New York) and at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). However, as an artist, he is considered self taught; though some sources note a significant influence of his prominent artist friends like Horatio Walker, William Glackens, André Biéler, Robert Pilot, René Richard, and Dewey Albinson (see all in AskART). (3)

Pfeiffer began painting seriously in 1925. His works were exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* several times between 1927 and 1952 and at the Spring Exhibitions of the Montreal Museum of Fine arts between 1928 and 1954. He also had over 33 solo exhibitions including several at The Arts Club of Montreal* (1948, 1960, 1966, 1967) and one at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1963.

Other venues for his solo exhibitions include Robertson Galleries, Ottawa; Zwicker's Gallery, Halifax, N.S.; T. Eaton Co., Montreal; Palais Montcalm, Quebec City; Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City; and the Lindsley Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida. (4)

His works are very actively traded on the Canadian auction market, they are in numerous private collections, and they are in several important public collections.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network*, there are Gordon Edward Pfeiffer works in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Bruck Museum (Cowansville, Quebec), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Canadian War Museum (Ottawa), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), La Pulperie (Chicoutimi, Quebec), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), and the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec).


(1.1) The exact location of his death could not be determined from our sources. The Canadian Heritage Information Network only lists “25 May 1983 Quebec, Canada”; other sources were either prepared before Pfeiffer’s death or avoided the subject. An obituary could not be located online.

(1.2) Both of Gordon’s brothers were artists; Harold Pfeiffer (see AskART) a sculptor and Dr. Walter H. Pfeiffer [physician] (B.1896) a painter. Both are listed and discussed individually in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists.

(2) Gordon Pfeiffer is most well-known for his Realist paintings such as those illustrated in AskART, however two of his three works in the Canadian War Museum, Golgotha and Peace and War, could be described as Surrealist because of their dream/nightmare imagery.

(3.1) A Dictionary of Canadian Artists and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction note that as an adolescent Pfeiffer studied painting under an A. Bonham in Quebec City; unfortunately, none of our sources, including the Canadian Heritage Information Network,  records an artist by that name, so no further information could be found.

(3.2) The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction also notes that Pfeiffer studied in Paris, but it does not say when or with whom. A Dictionary of Canadian Artists states that he lived in Paris and while there visited museums and artists’ ateliers; but it does not say whose or when.

(4) The Dominion Gallery*, Montreal is not listed by any source as an exhibitor of Pfeiffer’s paintings, however they must have been a dealer of his works as we’ve found several Pfeiffer auction postings that list Dominion Gallery as provenance, [e.g. “Murray River” in AskART] and we’ve found at least three files for Gordon E. Pfeiffer in the Dominion Gallery archives held by the National Gallery of Canada. Source: Dominion Gallery fonds, NGC – box 495 file 11; box 497 file 4; and box 514 file 3.


A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references).

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references).

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references).

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references).

E. Benezit – Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs (1999); Grund, Paris.

– The Canadian Heritage Information Network*.

– National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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