Arthur Hacker

Picking wildflowers

Oil on canvas: 15(h) x 18(w) in /

38.1(h) x 45.7(w) cm

Signed and dated lower left: Arthur Hacker/’97

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BH 46



1858 – London – 1919


Picking wildflowers


Signed and dated lower left: Arthur Hacker/’97

Oil on canvas: 15 x 18 in / 38.1 x 45.7 cm

Frame size: 22 x 24 ¾ in / 55.9 x 62.9 cm



Private collection, UK



Arthur Hacker was perhaps the most versatile of late Victorian artists.  As A.L. Baldry upholds in his survey of the artist’s work, ‘A certain disinclination to limit himself to any one type of production has always been an agreeable characteristic of Mr Hacker’s practice as an artist. His career has been one of wholesome experiment, and has been marked by many changes in his mode of dealing with artistic problems, but it has been full, also, of eminently memorable achievement, and it has been distinguished quite definitely in all its phases’ (‘The Paintings of Arthur Hacker RA’, A.L. Baldry, Studio, LVI, no. 233, August 1912).  An exhibitor at the Royal Academy, the New and Grosvenor Galleries, as well as being a founding member of the New English Art Club, Hacker excelled in the representation of each and every genre from historical and literary subject matter in a polished, neo-classical style to depictions of the modern landscape in a personalised Impressionist technique.


During the late 1890s to early 1900s, following a succession of well-received High Victorian academic works, Hacker returned to painting rural scenes paying homage to the beauty of the English countryside.  The present work is a bright and lively example of Hacker’s contemporary pastoral scenes.  As in Buttercup meadow at Manchester City Galleries, Hacker depicts an uncultivated field in spring time filled with lush, tall grass scattered with white and yellow wild flowers.  A dark line of hedgerows sits behind, punctuated by rapidly painted trees, traversing the width of the canvas high on the horizon.  Despite the cloudy sky, the scene is represented in brilliant sunshine and radiantly coloured. Two little girls, in vivid dresses of red and blue, pink and white with matching straw boaters, accompanied by an enthusiastic canine companion, follow a path that seems to circumnavigate a white lake or quarry, picking flowers as they go.

The girls are well, if subtly, modelled, their delicate features and graceful postures giving them an air of serenity in contrast to the broad, vivacious description of the verdant landscape around them.


Hacker went on to produce a series of images representing women walking through spring meadows, perhaps the best known being The Drone, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899.




Arthur Hacker, Buttercup Meadow

Oil on panel: 26 x 35.3 cm

Manchester Art Gallery






1858 – London – 1919


Arthur Hacker was born in London, the son of Edward Hacker the line engraver.  He went to the Royal Academy schools from 1876-1880, before studying in Paris at the atelier of Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), an internationally famous portrait painter and close friend of Degas.  Having finished his studies, Hacker travelled with his friend Solomon J Solomon to study the Spanish Old Masters in Madrid, then on to Seville, Gibraltar and Tangiers.  He later returned to visit various parts of North Africa including Morocco and Algiers.  Hacker was a founding member of the New English Art Club in 1886. 

His early work consisted largely of genre and historical scenes, such as Pelagia and Philemon (1887, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) and The Annunciation, (1892, Tate) which was purchased by the Chantry Bequest.  He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1894, and began teaching there soon after, while developing his talent for portraiture, achieving considerable success.  He was elected an Academician in 1910, his diploma work being Wet Night, Piccadilly Circus, part of a series of atmospheric London street scenes which met with a mixed reception from the critics.  In his later years he returned to painting mythological and allegorical subjects.  He died on the 12th of September in London, where he had lived throughout his life.

The work of Arthur Hacker is represented at the Tate and Royal Academy of Arts, London, Brighton & Hove Museums, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum. 

VictorianArthur Hacker