Paul Pfurtscheller


Paul Pfurtscheller (1855-1927) was an Austrian zoologist and biology teacher who produced a series of botanical and zoological wall charts from 1902 for educational use..

Born in Salzburg in 1855, Pfurtscheller was awarded a PhD and a teaching license from the University of Vienna in 1879. For the next six years, Pfurtscheller taught science at the Franz-Josef Gymnasium, and then for three more years at a high school in Vienna. He returned to the Franz-Josef Gymnasium, where he remained until his retirement in 1911. Notably, from 1877 he was a member of the Zoological and Botanical Society.

Although Pfurtscheller had no formal art training, he began creating detailed wall charts that showed the anatomical structure of animals, plants, or insects to compliment his lessons.  In 1902, the first five of his charts were produced and sold. His charts were originally published by A. Pichler's Witwe & Sohn und Buchhandlung Lehrmittelanstalt, a bookstore specialising in educational literature and teaching aids in Vienna and Leipzig. Later editions, easily identifiable by the 'Pfurtscheller'-signature at the bottom left, were also published by Dutch company 'Martinus Nijhoff' until 1953.  Whereas Pfurtscheller’s first charts were essentially colored lithographs on two sheets of paper, then mounted on canvas, later editions were printed. In the 1950s, they were published in smaller versions on just one sheet of paper.  Initially used only in German-speaking countries, the charts soon became common in other European countries and were highly regarded by eminent zoologists and botanists.

Over the course of his career, Pfurtscheller completed 38 charts, passing away in 1927 in Austria before the 39th could be finished. Pfurtscheller’s educational charts have been recently rediscovered and repurposed, along with many other prints of various industrial origins now included in popular vintage poster  collections.