detailed biography Albert Anker 1831 - 1910
Text: Therese Battacharya-Stettler
Samuel Albrecht Anker was born in April 1 in Ins and christened on April 24, 1831. He was the second of three children born to veterinarian Samuel Anker ( christened January 23, 1791 in INs, died May 25, 1860 and Marianne Elisabeth Gatschet (christened August 2, 1802 in Ins, died August 15, 1847 in Neuchâtel. At the time Anker was born, his father was a member of the legislative assembly that produced Bern's new constitution. The painter's paternal grandfather was Rudolf Anker, also veterinarian, and his maternal grandfather was an official in the village of Ins.
The Anker family lived in Neuchâtel until 1852, where Mr. Anker was a veterinarian for the canton under the Preussian governement. Albert, as he was known in French, who later became a painter, too, deserves special mention here.
Albert's drawing teacher at the college was Frédéric- Wilhelm Moritz (1783-1855), probably a cousin of painter Gabriel Lory fils (1784-1846). Neither Anker nor Bachelin were promoted into the second or third class.
1845-1848 Anker and Bachelin took private drawing lessons with Louis Walliner (1819-1886). On April 5, 1847 Anker's brother Friedrich Rudolf 8born 1828) died; his mother died on August 15 0f the same year.
Anker attended the Gymnasium in Bern. He lived with his uncle, Matthias Anker (1788-1863). in a letter dated June 9 written to his friend Bachelin, Anker said a great deal about painting. On May 11 he joined the Zofinger fraternity, of which he remained a mamber until summer of 1854.
1851 Graduation. Following his fathers orders, Anker began studying theology at the Univerity of Bern. In September he took his first trip to Paris, where he admired the work of Eustache Le Sueur (1616-1655) ansd in particular Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). He described his experiences in the Zofinger-Blatt (A. Anker 1851, pp. 29-31)
On 4 June Anker's sister Louise Emilie (christened August 6, 1837) died. Between autumn of 1852 and spring of 1854 Anker continued his theological studies at the university of Halle in Germany. He travelled to Weimar (winter 1852-53), Dresden and Munich (late 1853, Jena (winter 1853-54), and Berlin. On December 25, 1853 he wrote to his father to express his desire to stop studying theology and become a painter.
In spring Anker returned to Bern, where he at first continued his theological studies. During the summer hois father finally agreed to allow him to become a painter. He participated for the first time in the Turnus exhibition produced by the Schweizerischer Kunstverein in Bern, with a chalk drawing titled Rauchender Alter (Old man smoking). In the fall he moved to Paris and rented a room at number 53, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. His father gave him 250 francs andalso suüüorted him over the next few years with modest sums.To earn a living, Anker also copied paintings on demand and gave drawing lessons. In November he became a pupil of the Wadtländer painter Charles Gleyre (1806-1874), who ran Paul Delaroche's old studio in therue de l'Ouest. Among Anker's friends were the painters François Ehrmann (1833-1910), Alexandre-Auguste Hirsch (1833-1912), Albert de Meuron (1823-1897) and Léon Berthoud (1822-1892).
Anker enrolled on October 11 at the Ecole Impériale et Spéciale des Beaux-Arts, where he probably remained a student until 1860. From then on until 1890 he usually spent summers in Ins and winters in Paris. His father became a member of the Bernischer Kasntonal-Kunstverein, an art society in Bern.
At the Ecole des Beaux Arts Anker recieved prices for figure drawing. An January 25 and June 21 he won a third-place medal and on January 30 1858 he was again awarded a medal. Once again he had a painting, Hiob und seine Freunde (Job and his friends) at the Schweizerischer Kunsverein''s Turnus exhibition in Bern. With a few exceptions he took part regularly in the series until 1902. Anker spent the summer in Brittany.
During the fall, Anker spent a few weeks in Biberach in the black forest, Germany.
Anker was admitted to the Paris Salon with his Dorfschule im Schwarzwald (Village school in the böack forest). Until 1885 he usually had one or two paintings shown there. From the summer of 1859 until late1860 he spent time in Ins and Bern, due to his father's illnes. At his parents home in Ins he set up an attic studio.
On 25 May Anker's father died. For the first time, four of Anker's works were shown at the Exposition de la Société des Amis des Arts in Neuchâtel, and from then on, he regularly had several work in this series until 1905.
In April he spent a few weeks in Herbley (Val.d'Oise, France), and the summer in Ins. During the autumn he went to Italy for the first time, in company of François Ehrmann. They visited Milan, Venice, Mantua, Parma, Modena, Bologna and Florence, where Anker caught typhus. In early 1862 he returned via Marseille to the home of his aunt, Charlotte Anker-Dardel in St. Blaise. In Italy he copied works of old masters and made several modern looking Aquarells.
On January 19 he moved to another mansard room in Paris. In April he was again in Herbley. He recieved an Honorable Mention at the Paris Salon. This was the first year in which the Salon des Refusés, organised by the painter ....., took place, parallel to the official Salon. Manet's Déjeuner sur l'hewrbe excited great attention there.
He spent the summer with Albert de Meuron in the Bernina region. On december 6, in Twann, Anker married Anna Ruefli (1835-1917), daughter of a btcher, Sigmund Gottlieb Ruefli, of Lengna, who lived in Biel. Anna had spent several years as a governess in Russia. She had been a schollmate of Anker's dead sister Louise.
In August Anker spent a short while in Stans with a fellow painter, Alfred Dumont (1828-1894). Both artists spent a great deal of time with painter Edouard Hunziker (1827-1901). Birth of his first Daughter Louise (christened September 22, 1865, + 1954), who later married Maxilian Oser of Basel in 1884.
Anker won a Golden Medal at the Paris Salon. His paintings that year were Im Walde (In the forest, now at the Musée de Lille) and Schreibunterricht (Writing instruction). On April 6 he made his first note of a payment from the brothers Deck, a Parisian faience company. Anker did faience painting until 1892. He noted regular payments from them until 1894, and the final balance was paid in 1905, when the company closed.
With financial assistance from the governement, the Schweizerische Kunstverein acquired Die Gemeindeversammlung (the municipal assembly) dated 1865. Birth of his son, Franz Adolf Rudolf (christened July 28, 1867), who died in Ins on August 25, 1869 at the age of only 2 years. Anker spent the winter of 1867-68 with his family in Ins.
On fabruary 29 Anker became President of the newly founded Ins Men's Choir. He was a member of the Gesellschaft Schweizerischer Maler und Bildhauer (Society of Swiss painters and sculptors. He served as Vice President of the central office from 1869-70, as auditor in 1887 and as President in 1898. In Paris Anker moved into a new studio at 73, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, which he shared until 1873 with his painter friend Hirsch.
From summer 1870 until November 8, 1871 Anker remained in Ins because of the Franco-Prussian War. Birth of his second sion Emil (christened October 20, 1870), who died in Paris on December 3, 1871 from a Diphteria. From 1870 to 1874 Anker was a memebr of the Grand Council of the Canton of Bern and as chairman of the Preparatory Commission, he promoted the construction of the Bern Kunstmuseum. He was unanimously elected an honorary memeber of teh Bernische Kunstgesellschaft. In 1874 he declined re-election to the city council. He remained a member of the school board and the parish church board in Ins.
In April the Bernische Künstlergesellschaft tried in vain to persuade Anker to become a teatcher at the art school.
Between March 25 and April 28 Anker traveled to the south of France with Hirsch (including Les-Beaux-de-Provence). At the International Exhibition in London Anker was awarded a bronce medal for his painting Die Marionetten (The Marionettes). Birth of daughter Sophie Maria June 3, (+ 1950)., who later married a music professor, Albert Quinche of Neuchâtel in 1892. Anker went to Paris on November 26, where he remained until March 26, 1873
His aunt, Charlotte Anker, who had lived with the family in Ins since the death of his mother in 1847, died in May or June. On November 20 he returned to Paris. Anker left the studio he shared with Hirsch and set up his own at 101, Boulevard du Montparnasse. At the World Exposition in Vienna he won a medal for faience painting. From then until 1883 he was a correspondent for the magazine Le Mattin Pittoresque, in which he published under the pseudonym of Berger, an article about Lavater.
In Ins after May 5. In Paris the first Impressionist Exhibition took place. Birth of son Paul Moritz on August 6, + 1931 in Ontario California USA)
Anker spent the summer in Ins Returned to Paris in November 4.
Returned to Ins on March 31. Named one of the "Collaborateurs Artistiques" of the Revue Suisse des Beaux-Arts. Back in Paris by November 26.
In Ins after January8. Birth of daughter Fanny Cécile January 30, (+1957). who later married Charles Du Bois, a medical Doctor from La Chaux-des-Fonds, in 1901. Returned to Paris by November 25.
Along with Albert de Meuron and Friedrich Weber, Anker organised the Swiss Department of the Parisian World Expo, for which he was made a knight of the Legion of Honour. Returned to Ins on June 21. Spent August 3 to 13 on the Walensee.
Returned to Ins on April 8. On August 9 he participated in the opening ceremanies of the Bern Kunsmuseum, where two of his paintings and a watercolor hang. Return to Paris on November 14.
In April journeyed to Gien and Never, in May to Alsace and then to Pèaris, to voisit the Salon. Back in Ins on June 12. From August 16 to September 2 in Lörach, from September 21 to October 3 in Sion. Spent the winter in Paris.
Returned to Ins in April. From July 9 to August 13 in Thann in Alsace/France).Winter in Paris.
In June journied to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Lille. On November 3 he traveled from Ins to Paris.
After May 7 in Ins. From July 30 to August 9 in Zürich and in the canton of Ticino (south oft Switzerland). Returned to Paris as of November 10. During the winter months of 1883-84 Anker painted watercolors at the Académie Colarossi (painter Nicola Rossi's), nudes during the evenings and costume studies on Sundays.
From May 8 to September in Ins, then onceagain in Paris.
May to late November in Ins, then once again in Paris.
After April 15 in Ins. From June 10 to 26 in Paris, in order to close his studio.
From March 1 to May 31 he took two journeye ti Italy. He went ti Milan, Pavia; Genoa, Pisa, Arezzo, Rome, Anticoli, Naples, Rome again, Perugia, Siena and Florence. Théodore Deck became the Director of the State Percelain Factory Sèvres. His brother took on the directio of the faience factory. Anker was once again in Paris as of November.
After May 17 in Ins. On Nevember 4 he returned to Paris.
Anker spent the summer in Ins. He took a third trip to Italy and stayed in several places, including Florence. At the Paris World Exhibition he was awarded a bronze medal. He was also elected to the Eidgenössische Kunstkommission (Confederate art commission). along with Frank Buchser, Arnold Böcklin, François Bocion and others. He remained a memebr until 1893 and was once again a member from 1895-98- Returned to Paris on Noveber 22.
Anker became a member of the nominating jury for the First National Art Exhibition of Switzerland in Bern. Later he also worked on the organization of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th "Nationals" every two years. In May he gave up his Paris residence and moved to Ins, but also had a get-away for himself in Neuchâtel. Around this time he was commissioned by the publishing firm of Frédéric Zahn in La Chaux-de-Fonds to illustrate its edition of Gotthelf, work that occupied him for several years and required him to take repeated study trips to the rural region of the Emmental.
Fourth trip to Italy: Milan, Pavia, Mantovaa, Ravenna. Anker became a memebr of the Eidgenössische Kommission der GottfriedKeller-Stiftung (Confederate commission of the Gottfried Keller foundation.) and remained a member until 1901.
Anker became Secretary of the school board in Ins, an office that he held until least 1899.
In Milan from April 26 until May 1 to buy the Madonna in Trono (ca. 1500) by Francesco Napolitano for the Gottfried Keller Stiftung.
In June Anker spent a few days in Berlin as a memebr of the jury for the Swiss Departmenr of the international Art Exhibition, where he met Adolf Menzel, among others.. On his return jouney, he visited Halle, Kassel, Frankfurt am Main and Worms.
From Mai 16 to 24 and from July 15 to 27 he was in Munich as a member of the jury for the Swiss Department of the International Art Exhibition, where he met Franz von Lenbach.
Anker became President of the organisational committee for the 5th Swiss Art Exhibition (Kunsthalle Basel). His article "Le premier Développement de l'enfant (early childhood development) was published in the magazine La Suisse Libérale.
In early April he undertook his last journey to Paris. He also told Ehrmann of hsi continuing great admiratiob for Ingres drawings at the Louvre.
The University of Bern awarded Anker an honrary doctorate. The magazine Die Schweiz published a special issue dedicated to Anker, with 24 illustrations and a text by Albert Gessler. It was the first extensive description of Anker's artistic career. Album Anker was published by Zahn, La Chaux-de-Fonds. It featured photogravures as reproductions of forty works.
The Gesellschaft Schweizerischer Maler und Bildhauer (Society of Swiss Painters and Sculptors) made Anker and Erst Stückelberger an honorary member, in celebration of his seventieth birthday. Toward the end of September Anker suffered a stroke, which essentially paralyzed his right hand. During the last dacade of his life only two oil paintings (done with his left hand) were made, according to sales records. However he painted about one hundred watercolors every year, all of the same size and in a format that allowed him to rest his shaking hand. He also drew- with unsteady strokes- the same themes in charcoal.
Anker died on July 16 in Ins. He had a state funeral in Ins.The first memorial exhibition was held between November 1 and 30 at the Musée d'art et d'histoire in Neuchâtel. It featured 291 items, most of the artists estate. From January 15 to February 12, 1911, the KJunstmuseum Bern presented a second exhibition, featuring 243 items from various collections. The same year teh first monograph was published: Der Berner Maler Albrecht Anker. Ein Lebensbild (Bern painter Albrecht Anker. A picture of his life), whose author was his childhood and lifelong friend Pastor Albrecht Rytz.