Albert Anker - Doppelporträt Zimmermann-Schönauer, 1892
Oil on canvas
Both 56 x 42,5 cm
Already during his school and university years Albert Anker created portraits of friends and family members, and in the course of his long and successful career he repeatedly accepted commissions for important portraits.
In the heyday of his oeuvre, the artist portrayed the Zimmermann's, the owners of the Zytglogge Restaurant in Berne - a meeting place for artists and writers. Alexander Zimmermann (1862-1945) and his wife Marie Lina Zimmermann-Schönauer (1862-1929), were not only restaurant owners, but also important patrons of the arts.
Anker subtly painted the two portraits of Alexander and Marie Lina Zimmermann in three-quarter view as counterparts. The finely defined contours of the sitters stand out against a uniformly neutral background. Their bourgeois clothing, which characterizes the landlord and tenant couple as city dwellers, is bathed in a uniform light, with the draperies finely worked out in fine paint and contrasting with the monochrome background. The skin of their faces is modelled with the help of subtle shadows around the eyes and light shades of pink, which give the faces a tangible vividness and the appearance of down-to-earth health.
In these two portraits, Anker's painting style is to a certain extent still in keeping with the French-influenced painting style of the Ancien Régime, which continued to dictate the style of portrait painting and which artists preferred to use for commissioned works. Yet these portraits harbor an innovative, dynamic style: Anker creates two intimate portraits that capture people as singular subjects free from representative constraints.
City and country, bourgeois and peasant atmosphere are reflected in Anker's work in an exemplary manner. His portraits show individual characters: "Something that I placed great emphasis on from the beginning: an interest in psychology, possibly a remnant of my theological education. It always seemed to me that a painting without this interest radiates nothing", Anker wrote to the writer Philippe Godet in 1899.
Thanks to a coincidence, these two portraits by Albert Anker can be shown together again in our gallery in Roggwil after decades of being separated in different private collections.