The Artist

Fritz Hug was born in Dornach on March 19, 1921, the second eldest of five children. He spent his childhood in Java, where his father worked as an engineer for a railroad company. Back in Switzerland, he spent the rest of his youth in Thalwil. Fritz took an early interest in the fine arts. In 1935/36 he attended the Zurich School of Applied Arts. After leaving military recruit school, he began to devote himself seriously to painting in 1940.

First achievements as a painter

At the age of 20, Hug was able to open his first exhibition in 1941 with the support of Zurich art dealer Léon Bollag. He showed landscapes, cityscapes, portraits and interiors. His years of learning and traveling took him to the south of France in 1942/43 and later to Morocco, Italy and finally Lambaréné (Gabon). There he painted landscapes, animals and people from the environment of the tropical doctor Albert Schweitzer in 1950/51. Back in Zurich, exhibitions followed in various galleries in Switzerland.


Fritz Hug married the journalist and writer Margrit Schürmann in 1951. They had three children. In 1957, the family moved into a house in Zurich, which from then on housed both the family apartment and the artist’s studio. In later years, Hug opened his own gallery in the same building.

Painter of the animals

In 1964, Hug created a large mural entitled “Swiss Fauna” for the national exhibition Expo64. In 1967 he exhibited city-scapes at the Tryon Gallery in London, but by this time he was already beginning to concentrate more and more on painting animals.

In the same year, the WWF approached Hug with a request to paint around 100 animals threatened with extinction, a task that required both artistic skill and zoological knowledge. Fritz Hug temporarily withdrew to the tranquillity of a small village near Zurich to devote himself fully to this new task. It was here that Hug painted more than a hundred animal pictures, which he exhibited at the Helmhaus in Zurich in September 1970. This exhibition was followed by others: in 1973 at the “Museum of Science” in Boston and again in 1979 at the Helmhaus Zurich for the “50 Years of Zurich Zoo” anniversary celebrations.

Fritz Hug died after a short, serious illness on January 29, 1989, and was laid to rest in Zurich’s Fluntern cemetery. Throughout his life, the conservation of animals and their natural environment was of great concern to him. He was unable to complete a major project to paint all Swiss bird species for the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation.