He was enrolled from 1872 to 1874 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague and from 1875 to 1879 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. He remained in Vienna until 1887, although he was not an active participant in the local artistic community. At that time, he became a teacher at the Academy in Prague and was named a Professor there in 1896
Pirner's usual themes were classical mythology (such as his Medusa (1891) and Hecate (Above). Pirner completed a number of sketches of female figures, many of them nudes. He also did stained glass windows and medals.
Described by one critic as having achieved "mastery of the sinuous line". Pirner also had his detractors. One contemporary critic, while acknowledging Pirner's talent, considered him an "over-sophisticated mystic." More on Maximilian Pirner