Jul 082021

German painter Paul “Pablo” Fischer lived in Mexico for many years and painted at least two watercolors of Lake Chapala. Fischer (1864-1932) was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and earned a medical degree at the University of Munich in 1884.

He traveled to Mexico in about 1890 to administer an inheritance in the northern Mexico state of Durango. From 1890 to 1895, Fischer worked was the resident doctor in the Mina del Promontorio mine in that state.

During those years he became known as Pablo Fischer. He went into private practice in the City of Durango in 1895, the same year he married a local Mexican girl, Gertrudis; they had a son and two daughters.

The family later moved to Lerdo and still later to Torreón (Coahuila) where Paul Fischer died in 1932.

Fischer painted watercolors for pleasure and was completely self-taught. Painting was clearly his passion, He made preliminary sketches for his paintings during the family’s vacation trips to various parts of Mexico. Fischer rarely dated his paintings, but is known to have painted scenes in numerous states, including Durango, Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Cuautla (dated 1897), Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chapala.

Pablo Fischer: Chapala (date unknown)

Paul (Pablo) Fischer: Chapala (date unknown)

It is not known for sure when Fischer painted his small watercolors of Chapala, though they were probably all painted at roughly the same time. The first is a view of the lakeshore and fishing boats, as seen from west of Chapala, looking back towards the main church.  [Note: This painting is incorrectly attributed on several art websites–presumably because of the coincidence of name–to Danish painter Paul Gustave Fischer (1860-1934), though there is zero evidence that the Danish Paul Fischer ever visited Mexico.]

Pablo Fischer’s second view is from a boat on the lake, looking back towards the town of Chapala, the church, and the Hotel Arzapalo. Since the Hotel Arzapalo is shown as complete (with its second story), we know that this painting was completed after 1898, the year when the hotel opened.

Pablo Fischer: Chapala (date unknown)

Paul (Pablo) Fischer: Chapala (date unknown)

Art researcher Juan Manuel Campo has informed me that a third painting of Chapala by Fischer is also known. Painted from a very similar position to the image above, apparently from several years later, it shows the typical sail canoes (canoas de vela) used to transport passengers and cargo from one lakeside village to the next. The whereabouts of this painting is currently unknown.

Several of Fischer’s paintings of Lake Chapala were used for postcards by Guadalajara-based publisher Juan Kaiser, and one of them may have been the inspiration for a 1986 painting by Ignacio Ramírez.

Fischer’s landscapes are keenly observed and painstakingly executed, with exquisite details and a wonderful grasp of color. Fischer signed most of his paintings simply “PF” though on occasion he used “P. Fischer”. He often gave his paintings as gifts, and there appears to be little evidence that he sold any of his works, but his outstanding watercolors became quite well known.

I was mistaken to claim in an earlier version of this post that Fischer never held an exhibition of his works in Mexico. It is now known that he definitely held an exhibit of watercolor paintings at the retail store of the Sonora News Company (Gante #4, Mexico City) in December 1914. (Mexican Herald) The fact that the store received “a new collection of Paul Fischer water colors of Mexican scenes” in March 1915 suggests that Fischer maintained an ever-changing selection of his paintings for sale at the store, one of the main locations where tourists could purchase artwork and souvenirs while visiting Mexico.

It is quite likely that Fischer would have known fellow artist August Lohr (1842-1920), who was also living in Mexico City at that time.

Fischer had close links to El Paso, Texas. In June 1906 he declared he was carrying $1000 with him—a considerable sum of money for the time—when he entered the US via El Paso. Fischer held more than one showing of his works in El Paso.

A Fischer painting in the SURA (formerly ING) collection in Mexico was included in a touring exhibition entitled “Horizontes. Pasión por el paisaje,” which showed in Guadalajara and several other cities, from 2005 to 2010. The biography of Fischer attached to the SURA collection in Mexico says that he held his first exhibition in El Paso in 1910. The precise location is unclear. In April 1926 an exhibition of his work was held in the Woman’s Club of El Paso.

The El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, has amassed a significant collection of his works, and hosted a showing, with catalog, in September-October 1963, entitled: An Exhibition of Watercolors by Pablo Fischer, 1864-1932. Several members of the artist’s family attended the opening reception. Prior to the exhibition, the museum asked local residents for the loan of any Pablo Fischer paintings in their possession, since “The painter was very popular in this area about 50 years ago.” It is believed that some of his paintings were brought to the El Paso area by his son.

Painting must run in the family since two direct descendants – Lilia Fischer-Ruiz, who paints under the pseudonym Rhiux A. and her daughter Liliana – have also both become successful professional artists.

Note – This is an updated version of a post first published 15 January 2015.


I am very grateful for the help offered by art researcher Juan Manuel Campo in improving this post.


  • Mexican Herald: 9 Dec 1914, 3; 31 Dec 1914, 3; 11 Mar 1915.
  • Suramexico.com Biography (Spanish) of Paul Fischer

Sombrero Books welcomes comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

  25 Responses to “Watercolorist Paul Fischer (1864-1932)”

  1. I am happy to read some of my greatgrandfather´s history and information, most of the information I provided a while back to the curator of the ING collection for the exhibit Horizontes, because their information about my greatgrandfather was incorrect. I appreciate the article, there is only one mistake on the spelling on Fischer at the end of the story. Thanks, it is refreshing to see updated information on Pablo Fischer.

    • Liliana, My apologies for the typo in your family name. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know, and for the kind words. I would love to learn more about your great grandfather’s time in Chapala and about any exhibitions he held (whether in the U.S. or Mexico), if you feel able to share any more details or information, Regards, Tony

  2. I loved your article about Pablo Fischer, and – since you mention my name – I would like to receive a copy. Thanks so much, Rhix.a.

    • Thanks for the kind words. At present, the article is only available online (but can be printed from your web browser). Eventually (years rather than months) I hope to use some of the material for a book about the history of artists in the Lake Chapala area. I would love to learn more about Pablo Fischer’s time in Chapala, and about any exhibitions he held (whether in the U.S. or Mexico), if you feel able to share any more details or information, Regards, Tony

  3. Dear Madam or Sir,
    Today I discovered Sombreror Books as I was searching information about P. Fischer. My brother owns an original watercolor of this painter and I have one signed only F. Mexico and another one without any signature. Could these be also by Paul (Pablo) Fischer (all without dates)?
    My Grandfather (born 1879) spent several years in Mexico and returned to Germany in 1910 bringing back paintings by August Lohr (oil an watercolours) and Paul Fischer.

    Both painters are very little known in Germany and nobody is able to say anything about the value and interest of those paintings.

    Looking forward to receiving an answer

    Barbara Hutmacher

    Links to three Images: Loehr 1910 – – – Signed F – – – Unsigned

    • It certainly sounds possible that the two paintings are indeed by Paul (“Pablo”) Fischer.
      You mention that your grandfather was in Mexico for several years. Do you know much about his travels in the country or his activities during his time there?
      You probably already realize that we have a short bio of August Löhr (1843-1919) at http://sombrerobooks.com/?p=778.
      We are unable to say anything about value of paintings, but they certainly are by great painters who both have considerable historical interest.

  4. Hola, soy hijo de Alicia Reina Fischer, nieto de María Luisa Fischer Soto, hija de Paul Fischer, mi pregunta es para Liliana, de quién eres hija? Supongo que eres nieta del tío Pepe. Saludos

  5. Hola Luis Verduzco, efectivamente mi abuelo paterno es José Fischer y soy hija de Eduardo Fischer Moye (que ya murió) y Lilia Rosa Ruiz Arriaga. Mi madre es artista plástico y yo también, con obra muy distinta a la del bisabuelo. Tienes información o historias del bisabuelo? Me encantaría escucharlas leerlas. Mi correo es lilianafischer@hotmail.com a tus órdenes.


  6. Hola Luis Verduzco, En efecto mi abuelo es José Fischer, y soy hija de Eduardo Fischer Moye (que en paz descansa) y Lilia Rosa Ruiz Arriaga. Mi madre es artista plástico y yo también, con obra muy diferente a la del bisabuelo. Mi hija Isabella de Vries Fischer también es artista plástico. Si tienes anécdotas o información del bisabuelo me encantaría que me las compartas mi correo es lilianafischer@hotmail.com


  7. I am looking to sell a watercolor by Paul (Pablo) Fischer. If anyone is interested please let me know

  8. Wonderful to read about my great grand father and still much more information to provide by us members of the familia. My great aunt, Luisa, a daughter of Paul, told me years ago, and showed me her incredible private albums with dozens of his work. I also recall at least one or two small oil paintings (not landscapes) that were painted in Germany. I also started painting self tought at the age of 5 and later became a college degree restorer of art. Along my profession I have run into some of my great grandfather watercolors in private and bank owned collections.

    • Eduardo, Thanks for your interesting and valuable comments. I would love to learn more about your great grandfather’s time in Mexico, especially his time at Lake Chapala. I would also very much like to see photos of more of his paintings if that is possible? (If so, please send as attachments to an email) Best wishes, Tony.

  9. Hello, I have a beautiful set of framed watercolor paintings with the simple name “Fischer” in the right hand corner. They are beautiful Mexican scenes and I would like to know how he signed his work, and possibly, a picture of his signature. If you can help me investigate my paintings I would be very grateful. They are very old, one is dated that it was framed in El Paso Texas in 1926. Thank you.

    • The date and plae (El Paso) are certainly consistent with these paintings being by Paul Fischer. I can’t say for sure whether or not he ever signed paintings, “Fischer” but it is certainly possible. The very few I’ve seen closely are signed either “PF” or “P. Fischer”. The signature on the Lake Chapala painting in the post is a stylized PF (with the P facing left and sharing the vertical line of the F). If you want to send me some images of your paintings – preferably as attachments to an email – I’d be happy to try to identify the places depicted. If you are considering selling your possible Fischer paintings, I do know of at least one collector who might be interested. Seasonal greetings, TB.

  10. I’ve got what looks like an oil painting with just flowers with p fisher in the corner can any help with this.

    • No, sorry. Paul Fischer is primarily known for landscapes (and watercolors) and never signed his work in that way.

    • Hi l think l have a Paul Fischer landscape painting. It is very similar to others l have seen but l am unable to find title. It has two men on horses in a valley with a large cactus and a Wicca or something similar. Any ideas if it is a Paul Fischer

    • Paul,
      The subject matter is certainly consistent with paintings by Paul Fischer. Assuming it has a signature, can you send a couple of images of the painting, with a close-up of the signature – preferably as attachments to this email and I’ll be be happy to take a look and give you an opinion. And, if you’re interested in selling it, I do know of at least one collector who might be interested. TB.

    • I still have original Paul Fischer did you want me to send photos. I am looking to sell

    • Certainly! As in my previous response, assuming it has a signature, can you confirm the size, and send me a couple of images of the painting, with a close-up of the signature – preferably as attachments to this email address and I’ll be be happy to take a look and pass on the details to a collector who might be interested. TB

  11. I’m excited to have run across this information. I have two paintings by Mr. Fischer that were handed down through the generations and would love to have them appraised.

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