Theo Meier was born in Basle, Switzerland, in 1908. As a young man he was schooled at the Basle School of Art, and then went to Germany to attend Berlin Academy. In Berlin, Meier became acquainted with well-known artists such as Karl Hofer, Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, and Emil Nolde, a contemporary painter whom he highly respected. He then travelled to Dresden, and enrolled in Dresden Academy where he studied under Otto Dix, who helped to refine Meier’s artistic style. After returning to Switzerland Meier was commissioned to paint portraits of renowned musicians Arthur Honegger and Igor Stravinsky.
Meier, who had admired Gauguin and the writings of Jacques Rousseau, then set sail on his own tour of the South Pacific. In Tahiti he was inspired by the vibrant natural beauty of the island, as well as by its native women, and Meier’s sojourn on the island transformed his painting style. After leaving Tahiti he returned to Basle for a short time, but soon disembarked to Singapore, and then Bali, where he chose to live. He set up residence on the south side of the island at Sanur, and there, he became acquainted with fellow artist Walter Spies. In his time on the island he would marry two Balinese women, the second of whom, named Made Pergi, was the subject of some of his most outstanding portraits. As a citizen of a neutral country Meier remained on the island during WWII and continued painting despite the Japanese occupation, yet dozens of his paintings were lost to war-time privations.
In 1957 Meier finally left Bali, and after again returning home to Switzerland, he travelled to Thailand. In 1961 he settled in Chiang Mai, where he lived and continued to paint until his death in 1982. Some of Theo Meier’s best known paintings include Landscape in Morea, The Three Guardians, and Offering to the Sea God.