Albert Anker (1831 – 1910)
Swiss painter and illustrator Albert Anker was born in Ins. He studied theology, beginning in 1851 in Bern and continuing at the university of Halle, Germany. But in Germany he was inspired by the great art collections, and in 1854 he convinced his father to agree to an artistic career. In Neuchâtel he began using the name Albert, because it was easier to pronounce for his French-speaking classmates.
Anker moved to Paris, where he studied with Charles Gleyre and attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1855–60. He installed a studio in the attic of his parents’ house and participated regularly in exhibitions in Switzerland and in Paris. Apart from his regular wintertime stays in Paris, Anker frequently travelled to Italy and other European countries. In 1889–93 and 1895–98 he was a member of the Swiss Federal Art Commission. In 1900 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern.
During his studies, Anker produced a series of works with historical and biblical themes, including paintings of Luther and Calvin. Soon after returning to Ins, though, he turned to what would become his signature theme: the everyday life of people in rural communities.
Albert Anker’s work made him Switzerland’s most popular genre painter of the 19th century. His paintings have continued to enjoy a great popularity due to their general accessibility. Indeed.
Many Swiss postage stamps and other media have incorporated Anker’s work. His studio in Ins has been preserved as a museum by the Albert Anker Foundation. One of Anker’s greatest admirers and collectors is former Swiss Federal Councillor Christoph Blocher, since the 1980s Switzerland’s most influential conservative politician, who also published an apologetic essay on Anker.