Albert Anker (1831-1910)
Born in Switzerland, Albert Anker is well-known for his beautiful paintings of children. A father of four, his children often served as models for his scenes which are usually set in a pastoral backdrop or show a very tender, sweet portrayal of childhood. He has been called the most popular Swiss painter of the 19th century, and the quality of his paintings clearly speaks louder than words.
Though Anker did not initially attend art school, he studied under Louis Wallinger taking drawing lessons. In 1851 he went to Berne, Germany to study theology where he would become a priest. He became dissatisfied with the priesthood and much to his fathers' dismay; Anker was still fascinated by art. In 1854 finally moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Impériale des Beaux-Arts.
While attending art school in Paris, he also worked for Charles Gleyre in his studio and sold portraits. Also studying under Gleyre at the time were Monet, Sisley, Renoir and others. In 1861, Anker traveled to Italy where he became influenced by the works of Corregio and Titian, among others.
Aside from his numerous paintings of young children, Anker would also paint light and airy landscapes in watercolor. These landscapes were typically inspired by the Italian countryside, where he would travel often in during his lifetime. In particular, Anker turned to watercolors in the last ten years of his life due to health problems.
Although Anker gained much notoriety in his lifetime, he is generally not as well-known today as his contemporaries and fellow students. Perhaps this is because, during the height of his popularity, social-criticism was a rising theme amongst other painters, and Anker's portraits of children weren't as harsh or striking. Anker painted in the Classical style, and new styles of painting were arising that are still extremely popular today, like Impressionism.
Although Anker's portraits of children are typically easy to identify, some authenticators may have trouble dealing with his lesser-known compositions. People at work, still-life, and particularly, portraiture in his earlier years may have been disregarded in the past or mis-authenticated. Works of his like his still-life paintings are perfect examples of Anker's range.
The detail that went into his still life paintings from the creases in the table cloth to the reflection of light on the glasses is stunning.
Similarly, his portraits of people at work were also beautiful and very set in the Classical style. Anker was notorious for painting people in action or while doing something, as opposed to people resting or simply posing.