Emil Fuchs, MVO, was an Austrian and American sculptor, medallist, painter, and author who worked in Vienna, London and New York. He painted portraits of Queen Victoria and Edward VII and was fashionable among London high society in the early 20th century.
He was born in Vienna on 9 August 1866. During his years in Austria, Germany and Rome he was a sculptor and medallist who eventually began to study painting as well. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Edmund von Hellmer and Viktor Oskar Tilgner. He then attended the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin where he studied under Fritz Schaper and Anton von Werner. From 1891 to 1897 he was in Rome, having won the German Prix de Rome in 1891. While in Rome he had an affair with Elvira Fraternali; this is referred to in the film D’Annunzio. He had a sister Renee, and was brother-in-law of Gustav Freytag.
From 1897 to 1915 his address was in London where he regularly met with the artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema. He had been mainly a sculptor and medallist, but he began oil painting, especially portraiture in oils, in 1897; his early mentor was John Singer Sargent. He exhibited works at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1898 and he taught there. He worked on commissions including portraits for Queen Victoria and Edward VII, and his portraits became fashionable among various patrons from the aristocracy and high society. He was honoured with the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1909. While in England he was employed by the Birmingham Mint. By 1905 he had been teaching at Paris, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and Rome and was making winter trips to the United States.
Fuchs began going to the United States in 1905, primarily to paint portraits of wealthy socialites. In 1915 during World War I, “a wave of anti-German sentiment” swept England so, to escape it he moved permanently to New York, producing more works there and offering assistance with the war effort. He became a US citizen in 1924. He had surgery for cancer in 1928, and in anticipation of a death with great suffering he shot himself at the Hotel des Artistes in New York on 13 January 1929. His will created a foundation which put his art on view as a permanent exhibit, and for this he left $500,000 plus artworks to the public.