Hermann Eissler studied geology at the University of Vienna, writing his doctoral thesis in 1883 on the geological structure of the Rax Alps. Afterwards, he joined the family timber business J. Eissler & Brüder and became a partner in 1897. Apart being an enthusiastic alpinist, Hermann and his brother Gottfried (1861–1924) were among the most important art collectors in Vienna. The collection was notable above all for its focus on outstanding French (Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Théodore Géricault, Auguste Rodin etc.) and Austrian (Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Rudolf von Alt, August von Pettenkofen etc.) nineteenth-century art. His interdisciplinary collecting and lending activities enabled Hermann to make numerous contacts in national and international art circles. In 1929 he married Hortense Kopp, daughter of the mayor of Wimpassing. After the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, Eissler, who was considered a Jew, sold four chemist's panels by Waldmüller in June 1938 to the planned Kunstmuseum Linz through the mediation of the Munich art dealer Maria Almas-Dietrich. In October 1938 the works were divided up within the family between Berta Morelli, his daughter from an earlier relationship, and his "Aryan" wife. Despite this, the collection was secured just a short time later by order of the Vienna monuments authority through department MA2 of the Vienna city council. After the couple's planned departure to Nicaragua in early 1939 had failed, Hermann Eissler managed to reach Switzerland on his own via Hungary and from there continued to southern France. Hortense Eissler applied for divorce a few months later to prevent the Kleinzell Kreisbauernschaft (rural council) gaining access to Eissler's estate there. Both she and Berta Morelli sold several items in the following years to the Sonderbeauftragter (special representative) for the Kunstmuseum Linz. In 1948 Hermann Eissler returned to Vienna for the first and only time. In July 1951 he married Hortense for a second time in Nice, where he died in 1953. He had not made any claims for restitution under the laws in force at the time. It was not until 1964 that Hortense Eissler recognized Waldmüller's painting Dorf Ahorn (The Village Ahorn near Ischl) and the chemist's panels during a visit to the Österreichische Galerie. After the attempt to repurchase Dorf Ahorn failed, she filed a claim for return of the picture with the Landesgericht für Zivilrechtssachen (Provincial Court for Civil Law) in Vienna, which in 1972 refused the claim. The Oberstes Gerichtshof (Supreme Court) confirmed the judgment, since the deadlines for asserting restitution claims had expired. Hortense Eissler died in 1983.
At its meeting of 24 June 2009, the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of the chemist's panels to the legal successors of Hermann Eissler. No such recommendation was made for Dorf Ahorn.