Jakob Philipp Hackert
(Prenzlau 1737 - 1807 Careggi, Florence)
Two Views of the ‘Venusbassin’ in the Berlin Tiergarten, 1761
sold in collaboration with Gallery Arnoldi-Livie
Formerly Prussian royal collection, Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam
Oil on canvas, each 59.7 x 74.5 cm
Both views signed J.P. Hackert. fecit.
A label on the verso of the first painting reading 2 Ansichten vom Bassin im / Tiergarten bei Berlin von / Ph. Hackert, erkauft von / S. Majes. l. Benachrichtigung / von d. Graf. K. v. Schöning. 25.3.42.
- Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky (1710-75), Berlin, acquired from the artist for 200 thalers in spring 1761
- Friedrich Wilhelm IV, König von Preussen (1795-1861), purchased for the ‘Hofdamenflügel’ at Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam, 1842 (Sanssouci Erwerbungsjournal II, 572)
- Collection of Kaiser Wilhelm II, König von Preussen (1859-1941), Huis Doorn, Holland, 1919-41
- By descent to a member of the Brandenburg-Hohenzollern branch of the House of Hohenzollern
- Estate of Prinz Louis Ferdinand von Preussen, Burg Hohenzollern, Hechingen (inv. GK I 5736 and GK I 5734)
- Ausstellung Deutscher Kunst aus der Zeit von 1775-1875, Berlin, Königliche Nationalgalerie, January-May 1906, no. 659
- Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. 17. Februar 1699 bis 16. September 1753, Gedächtnisschau im Schloss Charlottenburg zum 200. Todestag, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, 1953
- Park und Garten in der Malerei vom 16. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart, Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, 1957, no. 25 (the first view)
- Europäisches Rokoko. Kunst und Kultur des 18. Jahrhunderts, Munich, Residenz, 15 June-15 September 1958, no. 93 (the first view)
- Park und Landschaft in Berlin und in der Mark, Berlin, Berlin Museum, 16 September-21 November 1976, no. 70 (the first view)
- Berlin durch die Blume oder Kraut und Rüben. Gartenkunst in Berlin-Brandenburg, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, Orangerie, 5 May-30 June 1985, no. 250 (the first view)
- Joseph Lenné: Volkspark und Arkadien, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg and Berlin, Schloss Glienicke, 17 June-30 September 1989, no. 175 (the first view)
- Generalkatalog I: Gemälde in aller preußischen Schlössern, (GK I) Berlin 1833, nos. 5734 and 5736
- Gustav Parthey, Deutscher Bildersaal. Verzeichnis der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbener Maler aller Schulen, I, Berlin 1863, p. 536, nos. 6 and 7
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethes Werke. Philip Hackert, XLVI, Weimar 1891, p. 116
- Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, XV, Leipzig 1922, p. 412
- Bogdan Krieger, Berlin im Wandel der Zeiten: eine Wanderung vom Schloss nach Charlottenburg durch 3 Jahrhunderte, Berlin 1924, repr. p. 279 (the first view)
- Bruno Lohse, Jakob Philipp Hackert, Leben und Anfänge seiner Kunst, Emsdetten 1936, pp. 48, 49, 51, 74, 75, nos. 10 and 12
- Paul Ortwin Rave, Deutsche Landschaft in fünf Jahrhunderten deutscher Malerei, Berlin 1938, p. 171, no. 117, repr. p. 117 (the first view)
- Erik Forssman, ‘Jakob Philipp Hackert und Schweden’, in Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, XXIV, 1955, pp.18-19
- Irmgard Wirth, Die Bauwerke und Kunstdenkmäler von Berlin. Bezirk Tiergarten, Berlin 1955, p. 199, fig. 222 (the first view)
- Hans E. Pappenheim, ‘In den Zelten - durch die Zelten: Kulturgeschichte am Tiergartenrand 1740-1960’, in Jahrbuch für Brandenburgische Landesgeschichte, XIV, Berlin 1963, p. 114
- Ekhart Berckenhagen, Die Malerei in Berlin vom Ende des 13. bis zum ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1964, II (repr.), note 277 (the first view)
- Wolfgang Krönig, ‘Kehrtwendung der Blickrichtung in Veduten-Paaren von Philipp Hackert’, in Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, XXX, 1968, pp. 256-9, repr. pp. 256-7, figs. 179 and 180
- Irmgard Wirth, Berlin und die Mark Brandenburg Landschaften. Gemälde und Graphik aus drei Jahrhunderten, Hamburg 1982, p. 19, repr. p. 18, fig. 5 (the first view)
- Wolfgang Krönig, ‘Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807): ein Werk- und Lebensbild’, in Heroismus und Idylle. Formen der Landschaft um 1800 bei Jacob Philipp Hackert, Joseph Anton Koch und Johann Christian Reinhart, exhib. cat., Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum 1984, p. 11
- Wolfgang Krönig, ‘Zu ?Vedute” und ?Panorama” im Werk von Philipp Hackert 1737-1807’, in Zeitschrift für Schweizerische Archäologie und Kunstgeschichte, XLII, 1985, pp. 269, 272, repr. pp. 270-1, figs. 1 and 2
- Irmgard Wirth, Berliner Malerei im 19. Jahrhundert. Von der Zeit Friedrich des Großen bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg, Berlin 1990, p. 34, repr. p. 37, fig. 29 (the first view)
- Folkwin Wendland, Der Große Tiergarten in Berlin, Berlin 1993, p. 48 (incorrectly illustrated: figs. 18 and 19 reproduce the pair now in the Märkisches Museum, Berlin)
- Bruno Weber, ‘La nature à coup d’oeil. Wie der panoramatische Blick antizipiert worden ist’, in Das Panorama als Massenunterhaltung des 19. Jahrhunderts, exhib. cat., Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1993, p. 23
- Wolfgang Krönig and Reinhard Wegner, Jakob Philipp Hackert. Der Landschaftsmaler der Goethezeit, Vienna 1994, pp. 67, 117
- Claudia Nordhoff and Hans Reimer, Jakob Philipp Hackert 1737-1807. Verzeichnis seiner Werke, catalogue raisonné, Berlin 1994, II, pp.178-9, nos. 373 and 374
- Gerd-Helge Vogel and Rolf H. Seiler, Der Traum vom irdischen Paradies: die Landschaftskunst des Jakob Philipp Hackert, Fischerhude 1995, p. 37, repr. pp. 70-1, figs. 15 and 15b
- Claudia Nordhoff, ‘Jakob Philipp Hackerts Jahre in Berlin (1753-1762)’, in Festschrift für Fritz Jacobs zum 60. Geburtstag,Münster 1996, pp. 179-81, repr. pp. 187-8, figs. 2 and 3
- Thomas Weidner, Jakob Philipp Hackert, Landschaftsmaler im 18. Jahrhundert, I, Berlin 1998, pp. 11, 13-14, 161, note 29, repr. p. 296, figs. 13 and 14
- Claudia Nordhoff, ‘Jakob Philipp Hackerts künstlerische Anfänge in Berlin’, in Andreas Beyer (ed.), Europa Arkadien. Jakob Philipp Hackert und die Imagination Europas um 1800, Göttingen 2008, pp. 90-4, repr. p. 93, figs. 4 and 5
- Nina Simone Schepkowski, Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. Kunstagent und Gemäldesammler im friderizianischenBerlin, Berlin 2009, pp. 400, 401, 562, repr. p. 338, plates XXXI and XXXII
- Claudia Nordhoff (ed.), Jakob Philipp Hackert: Briefe (1761-1806), Göttingen 2012, pp. 28, 232, 233
Her Noble Highness is no doubt aware [...] that I have the honor to have been Brandenburg born and bred, and owe gratitude to Berlin’s Thiergarten for my first studies of trees? (Hackert to Princess Louise of Anhalt-Dessau in 1796)
Jakob Philipp Hackert was twenty-three years old when he painted the present two views of the ‘Venusbassin’ [Venus pool] in the Tiergarten in Berlin. Goethe, in his biographical comments on Hackert, noted that they were the first works by Hackert to be presented to the Berlin public. That he specifically mentioned the price of 200 thalers paid by Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky, a business man and art collector, shows his recognition of how extraordinarily high the price was – by contrast, Hackert’s private teacher, the painter and engraver Blaise-Nicolas Le Sueur (1716-1783), received an annual salary equivalent to one third of this sum as Director of the Berlin Academy of Art.
Hackert was born in 1737 in Prenzlau, the centre of the historic Uckermark region in Brandenburg. In 1753, he began a two-year apprenticeship under his uncle, Johann Gottlieb Hackert the Elder (b.1722), a painter of decorative projects in Berlin. In 1758, he enrolled at the Berlin Academy to study under Blaise-Nicolas Le Sueur. It was Le Sueur who introduced him to Gotzkowsky, the first owner of the present pair of paintings. Gotzkowsky was an important figure in the cultural life of Berlin. In 1755, Frederick the Great commissioned him to purchase paintings for the recently completed palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam. Gotzkowsky was also instrumental in selling an important group of works to Empress Catherine II of Russia, thus laying the foundations of the Hermitage Museum’s outstanding collection of paintings. Gotzkowsky purchased the two views of the ‘Venusbassin’ from Hackert in the spring of 1761 – initially, perhaps, for his personal collection.
In 1842, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, König von Preussen (1795-1861) acquired the two views for the recently completed ‘Hofdamenflügel’ [lit.: court ladies’ wing] of Schloss Sanssouci. In conscious recognition of his legendary ancestor, Frederick the Great, he had the rooms decorated in Rococo style. The frames of both paintings can rightly be seen as an integral part of the original decorative scheme, designed and made in the same period.
The Tiergarten had been greatly expanded over the centuries to become a private hunting ground for the Prussian monarchy when Frederick the Great commissioned the painter and architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff (1699-1753) to transform the area into a public pleasure garden for the people of Berlin. In 1757, a large ornamental pool adjoining the Charlottenburger Chaussee was added, popularly called the ‘goldfish pond’ or ‘carp pond’. In 1761 Hackert also painted two views of the semi-circular space to the north of the pool, commonly known as the ‘Alte Zelte’. Both sites would become popular attractions for the citizens of Berlin.
The two paintings depict the pool from opposite viewpoints. The lawned borders on the long sides are planted with a row of small trees pruned in two different styles and set in alternate order – short upright topiary shapes alternate with tall-stemmed spherical shapes. Behind each row is a hedge bordering the dense natural forest of the park. The figures depicted represent a cross-section of the population – aristocracy, high-ranking clergy, the military, townspeople and beggars. The white marble statue of Venus is shown at one end of the pool and at the other, a horse-drawn carriage travelling down the Charlottenburger Chaussee.
The principles of Hackert’s landscape painting reflect his assiduous study of the Old Masters. He made copies after Claude (1600-82), Nicolas Berchem (1620-83) and Jan Asselijn (1610-52). The Berlin landscapists of the first half of the eighteenth century had a formative influence on his artistic development – Antoine Pesne (1683-1757), Charles Sylva Dubois (1668-1753) and the artistically versatile Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, designer of the public pleasure garden. But their representation of the Brandenburg landscape falls far short of Hackert’s striving after realism.
As Goethe rightly observed, Hackert’s draftsmanship was masterly: (…) With a well-practised hand, he worked a great deal after nature, [capturing ] at least some portion of those fine trees that the Thiergarten of Berlin and Charlottenburg offered him, in what are, moreover, somewhat unfavorable parts for a landscape painter.
Hackert’s major objective was to produce a highly realistic depiction of the actual topography. By choosing to paint the landscape from two different viewpoints, he encourages the observer to engage with it in an almost physical way – to move through the landscape in much the same way as someone on foot, turning or changing direction to absorb a different vista and arriving at an unbroken view of it. The Hackert scholar Wolfgang Krönig has coined the term Kehrtwendung in der Blickrichtung [lit.: a reversal of the direction of view] to describe this approach. The movement of the observer’s eye in pictorial space is a recurring theme in Hackert’s oeuvre.
The outstanding success of the two paintings prompted Hackert to paint a second version of the pair in the same year and yet another version in 1764-5, but with different staffage. The second version was originally destined for the poet Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim (1719-1803). This pair is now in the collection of the Märkisches Museum in Berlin. The third version (1764-5, Nordhoff nos. 463 and 464) is in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. Goethe claimed that it was Hackert’s patron, Adolf Friedrich von Olthof, who arranged an introduction to the Swedish Court and that Hackert made the views for the Swedish queen, Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, a sister of Frederick the Great. Two preparatory studies for the present pair are preserved.
Hackert left Berlin in 1762 to take up an invitation from Adolf Friedrich von Olthof, a Swedish government minister, to visit Stralsund and the island of Rügen. He completed a series of murals for Olthof’s residences in Stralsund and on Rügen. The murals are still preserved today. In 1764, he accompanied Olthof on a visit to the Swedish Court, where he painted the third version of the views of the ‘Venusbassin’. In August 1765 Hackert travelled to Paris, where he worked with increasing success until 1768. In August of the same year he moved to Rome where he was to spend the next eighteen years. He quickly established a reputation as the city’s leading landscape painter. Among his important clients were Catherine the Great of Russia and Pope Pius VI. Other patrons included members of the aristocracy in Rome, high-ranking clergy and visiting members of European high society. In 1786, Hackert was appointed court painter to Ferdinand IV of Naples. This appointment was the crowning success of his career. He took up residence both in the Royal Palace at Caserta and in the Palazzo Francavilla in Naples, fully expecting to end his life in comfortable circumstances on a regular income from the Bourbon Court. However political unrest in the wake of the French Revolution put an end to his hopes. Following the precipitous flight of Ferdinand IV to Palermo in the winter of 1798 Hackert, too, was forced to flee the city. Abandoning almost all his material possessions he left Naples, then briefly a republic, in March 1799. He lived in Pisa for a year before moving to Florence. In 1803 he acquired a country estate in San Pietro di Careggi near Florence, where he took up plein-air painting and pursued his botanical and agricultural interests. He suffered a fatal stroke on 28 April 1807.
 We are grateful to Dr. Gerd Bartoschek for providing information regarding the Erwerbungsjournal [inventory of acquisitions made by Friedrich Wilhelm IV].
 Cited after F. Matthisson, Schriften. Ausgaber letzter Hand, Zurich 1825, V, p. 78; in Claudia Nordhoff and Hans Reimer, Jakob Philipp Hackert 1737-1807. Verzeichnis seiner Werke, catalogue raisonné, Berlin 1994, II, p. 179.
 See Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethes Werke. Winckelmann. Philip Hackert, XLVI, Weimar 1891, p. 116: Yet this did not hinder the development of his art, nor the profit he derived from it, in particular since he had by then, on the recommendation of his master and friend, Mr. Le Sueur, presented himself publicly as an artist with two highly accomplished paintings. These two works, views of the ‘Teiche der Venus’ in the Tiergarten - which should to some degree be regarded as the first fruits of his art, since knowledge of his work had been scarce until then - elicited a feeling of joy amongst artists and admirers of art. Mr. Gotzkowsky, for Berlin so noteworthy a man at that time, acquired them of his own accord and paid for them 200 talers, a by no means insignificant sum.
 See Nina Simone Schepkowski, Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. Kunstagent und Gemäldesammler im friderizianischen Berlin, Berlin 2009, p. 400.
 Gotzkowsky was a banker, art advisor and collector of paintings. He founded the Fabrique de Porcelaine de Berlin. The porcelain manufactory was renamed Staatliche Porzellanmanufaktur Berlin (KPM) and still exists today. In 1760, when Berlin City Council decided to surrender the city formally to the Russians, Gotzkowsky acted as a diplomat, negotiating successfully on behalf of Berlin. But in 1766 he was declared bankrupt a second time, suffering social and financial ruin. See Schepkowski, op. cit., p. 401.
 Jakob Philipp Hackert, Ansicht der Alten Zelte im Berliner Tiergarten I - II, 1761, a pair of oil paintings on canvas, 48.8 x 61.8 cm, formerly collection of Prinz Louis Ferdinand von Preussen; now private collection, Germany.
 See Nordhoff, Hackerts künstlerische Anfänge in Berlin, op. cit., pp. 81-8.
 Ibid. pp. 94-6.
 Goethe 1891, op. cit., p. 113.
 Wolfgang Krönig, ‘Kehrtwendung der Blickrichtung in Veduten-Paaren von Philipp Hackert’, in Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, XXX, 1968, pp. 256-9.
 Jakob Philipp Hackert, Park Landscape with the Goldfish Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten I, oil on canvas, 61 x 74 cm, signed and dated J. P. Hackert, pinx: 1761, Märkisches Museum, Berlin, inv. VII/59/769x.
Jakob Philipp Hackert, Park Landscape with the Goldfish Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten II, oil on canvas, 60.5 x 74 cm, signed J. P. Hackert fecit., Märkisches Museum, Berlin, inv. VII/59/770x.
 Jakob Philipp Hackert, Park Landscape with the Goldfish Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten I, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 75.5 cm, signed J. P. Hackert fecit, , Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, inv. NM 4777.
Jakob Philipp Hackert, Park Landscape with the Goldfish Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten II, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 74 cm, signed Hackert, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, inv. NM 4778.
 See Krönig 1968, op. cit., p. 258.
 Jakob Philipp Hackert, The Venus Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten I, c.1761, pen and grey ink, watercolor, 23.8 x 37.2 cm, Kupferstichkabinett Dresden, inv. C 1944-258 (Nordhoff 1142).
Jakob Philipp Hackert, The Venus Pond in the Berlin Tiergarten II, watercolor, 26.3 x 27.6 cm, private collection (Nordhoff 1229).