Partner Eduard von Mayer
Centro Elisarion, Via Rinaldo Simen 3, 6648 Minusio, Svizzera
Elisàr August Emanuel von Kupffer (February 20, 1872 – October 31, 1942) was a Baltic German artist, anthologist, poet, historian, translator, and playwright. He used the pseudonym 'Elisarion' for much of his writing.
He was born on February 20, 1872, in Sophiental, Estonia, the son of Adolf von Kupffer (1833–1896), a doctor from an aristocratic German family.
Since an early age he suffered from delicate health: he contracted meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, scarlet fever and measles. However he was also a good student and at the age of nine he wrote his first plan "Don Irsino".
In 1883 he enrolled in school in Reval, the same year the family moved from Sophiental to the Manor of Jootma. At 19 years old he entered the German St. Anna School in St. Petersburg. It's near the school, at Levashovo, that he met who will become long-life partner, the historian and philosopher Eduard von Mayer (1873-1960), and his first girlfriend, Agnes von Hoyningen-Huene. In 1894 he moved to Germany.
In 1895 he published “Leben und Liebe" (Life and Love). In autumn of that year he moved to Berlin to study at the Berlin Art Academy and moved in with Eduard von Mayer. In 1896 von Kupffer left Agnes von Hoyningen-Huene. He wrote the drama "Der Herr der Welt" (Master of the World) and the three one-act plays "Irrlichter" (Ghost Lights, the three stage plays Andrei, Erich and Narkissos). In 1897 he published the anthology "Ehrlos" (Infamous).
Von Mayer graduated in 1897 and the two of them travelled to Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Capri, Ischia, Pompeii, Taormina, Messina, Catania, Syracuse, Palermo, Rome, Monte Carlo, Avignon, Geneva, and once again, Berlin. They spent the summer in Thuringia and Heiligendamm. They went back to Italy in 1899. In 1899/1900 Adolf Brand published von Kupffer's influential anthology of homoerotic literature, ''Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur'' (Love of Favourites and Love between Friends in World Literature) in Berlin. The anthology was reprinted in 1995. The anthology was researched and created, in part, as a protest against the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in England.
In 1908 he published a book on Sodoma, the Renaissance artist. In 1911 Eduard von Mayer and Elisar von Kupffer founded the publishing house Klaristische Verlag Akropolis in Munich and von Kupffer published a stage play "Aino und Tio", "Hymnen der heiligen Burg" (Hymns of the Holy Castle) and "Ein neuer Flug und eine heilige Burg" (A New Flight and a Holy Castle). His work was also published and reviewed in the gay magazine Akademos published by Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen. The first Claristic community was founded in Weimar in 1911. In 1912 he published "Der unbekannte Gott" (The Unknown God). In 1913, the Brogi Gallery in Florence hosted his first exhibition. In 1913 they founded a Claristic community in Zurich.
In 1915, with the World War I and growing animosity towards Germans, the two men left Italy to move to Ticino, where von Kupffer established himself as a fine-art painter and muralist in Locarno, Switzerland. The two men were granted Swiss citizenship in 1922. From 1925 to 1929 they transformed their Minusio villa at the Lake Maggiore into an opulent collection of art, the "Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion". He was also a photographer, making photographic studies of boys for use in the creation of his paintings, but more often his own rejuvenated form can be seen as a subject of his art works. The couple were at the heart of a religious movement called the Klarismus (in English: 'Clarity') and The Elisarion Community was founded at Minusio in 1926. The visitors that started to arrive in the 1930s gradually stopped towards World War II. Health problems led to von Kupffer's death on October 31, 1942. From 1981 the "Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion" has been a Museum dedicated to von Kupffer's work. The villa was willed to the municipality of Minusio, and their ashes are interred together inside it.
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