He completed an apprenticeship as a scene painter and interior decorator, and subsequently studied in Karlsruhe and Munich before going to Paris in 1906.
After 1916 Purrmann lived in Berlin and Langenargen (Lake Constance), moving from there in 1935 to run the German art foundation at the Villa Romana in Florence. He lived there until 1943, then in Montagnola (Switzerland). He died in Basel. Typical of Purrmann"s style are colourful, sensitively painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits.
There are large collections of his works in Langenargen Museum and in the Purrmann House, Speyer.