Modern & Contemporary Auction

Modern & Contemporary Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 12. Bildnis Marie Anker .

Albert Anker

Bildnis Marie Anker

Lot Closed

June 14, 12:11 PM GMT


150,000 - 200,000 CHF

Lot Details


Albert Anker

1831 - 1910

Bildnis Marie Anker

Oil on faience

Signed lower left

19 x 27.5 cm (unframed); 31.5 x 40 cm (framed)

This work is registered in the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA) under no. 38'225 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Private collection, Switzerland

Acquired from the above by the present owner

The most celebrated Swiss genre painter of the XIXth Century, Albert Anker began his career by copying old masters at the Louvre and portraying his friends and immediate family. The artist mostly depicted children and elderly people, valuing the carefree nature of the former and the experience of the latter. Bildnis Marie Anker is an exquisite portrait on faience, representing the artist’s daughter doing her homework. Although Anker worked in Théodore Deck’s earthenware factory between 1866 and 1892 to increase his income, this work is particularly rare because it is not a decorative plate, but a very delicate wall painting with a shimmery surface. 

This painting explores the theme of education, particularly dear to Albert Anker and increasingly prominent in XIXth Century painting. In 1835, compulsory primary schooling was introduced in the canton of Berne for boys and girls. Children were allowed to learn to read, write and count for a period of four to six years. As a painter and secretary of the Anet school board, Anker could witness the social changes of his time and captured the particularities of everyday life with great subtlety. He gives us a personal interpretation of the subject, strongly influenced by Jean-Etienne Liotard. 

In Bildnis Marie Anker, the artist carefully observes the child’s concentration, whose gaze is directed to the right hand writing, while the left hand holds the pages of a book. Anker also gives great importance to the decorative elements of the composition, rendering the different textures of wallpaper, clothing, jewellery, table cloth, chair and hair with virtuosity. He finally uses a highly refined colour palette and a warm yellow background richly ornamented to highlight the little girl and give us an insight into the bourgeois interiors of his time.