Jakob Philipp Hackert
Jakob Philipp Hackert was German by birth but spent most of his life in Italy where he established his reputation primarily as a landscapist. His views immortalising the beauty of Italy appealed particularly to foreign visitors who acquired them as souvenirs of their travels abroad. Born in Prenzlau in 1737, Hackert first worked with his father Philipp Hackert (d.1768), a portraitist. He then studied at the Berlin Academy and in 1761 two of his works were purchased for Frederick the Great.
Hackert visited Pomerania and Sweden and spent three years in Paris from 1765 to 1768, where he was considerably influenced by the French landscapist Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). In 1768, he left for Italy where he was to spend the rest of his life. He first settled in Rome and later visited Tivoli in 1769 and Naples in 1770.
Hackert’s stay in Naples proved to be the most successful period of his career. With a letter of introduction to Sir William Hamilton, the English Ambassador, he found his first distinguished patron, and shortly after was patronised by Catherine the Great. His work soon came to the attention of Ferdinand IV of Naples, from whom he received numerous commissions. Hackert was appointed Court Painter in 1786. Among his most important works are a series of paintings depicting the ports of the Kingdom which include views of Naples and Campania, 1787, Apulia, 1788, and Sicily and Calabria, 1790. Hackert was influenced by Vernet’s series depicting the Ports of France, and his series provides an important pictorial record of these southern Italian ports.
With the Republican uprising of 1799, the Court at Naples was forced to flee to Sicily. By 1800, Hackert had settled just outside Florence at San Pietro di Careggi, where he died in 1807. The poet and critic Goethe, whom Hackert had met at the Neapolitan court in 1787, published his biography posthumously in 1811, in accordance with the artist’s wishes.
The work of Jakob Philipp Hackert is represented in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples; the Galleria Nazionale, Rome; the National Gallery, Berlin and the museum of Montpellier, France.