1831 Ins (Switzerland) - 1910 Ins (Switzerland)
A Girl Looking at a Book
Watercolour on paper. 34 x 24 cm.
Signed and dated lower right: Anker 1907.
For this artist, cf.: S. Kuthy, T. Bhattacharya-Stettler: Albert Anker. Werkkatalog der Gemälde und Ölstudien, 1995.
Albert Anker is among the most important painters of children in the field of 19th century European art. Most of his oeuvre consists of portraits of boys and girls of around seven to ten years of age. These fine works tend to be permeated by humanist spirit and pedagogic ethics, in the manner of J. J. Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.
Anker portrayed numerous children reading, knitting, drawing and playing with great tenderness and attention to detail. Characteristic of these works is the dignity with which he portrayed his models deeply immersed in their reading and picture books, chalkboards, knitting things and games. This is all the more noteworthy considering the fact that in his time, such education was the priviledge of a select few.
Albert Anker suffered a severe stroke in 1901 which left his right hand paralysed, and he was henceforth unable to carry out large oil paintings. Thus, he was forced to work seated in a chair with his painting things in his lap, and was only really able to paint watercolours - however, he is thought to have made around 600 such works.
Anker painted this model twice in oils several years prior to producing this watercolour. Numbers 574 and 576 of S. Kuthy's catalogue raisonné show the same girl with her long blonde braid, and her striped apron practically became the trademark of the artist from Bern.