JAKOB PHILIPP HACKERT
1737 Prenzlau – San Piero di Careggi (near Florence) 1807
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The Church of San Michele Arcangelo in the Valle La Cava 1770
pen and black ink with brown wash over pencil on laid paper; 340 x 475 mm (13 3/8 x 18 11/16 inches)
signed, dated and annotated à la Cava 1770. f: J. Phi. Hackert
fleur-de-lis in double circle
private collection, Germany
Nordhoff, no. 631 with fig. 291
Born in very modest circumstances, Jakob Philipp Hackert joined his four brothers in pursuing an artistic career. He travels early on, first to Sweden and England before settling in Paris in 1766 from where he made trips to Normandy and into the Picardie. Two years later, he and his brother Johann Georg moved to Rome from where they extensively explored the Italian countryside. In 1786 Jakob Philipp became court artist to King Ferdinand IV in Naples and stayed there until 1799. Political unrest causes both brothers to move further north and ultimately settle in the environs of Florence. Of all the members of the Hackert family (the father had also been an artist), Jakob Philipp became the most famous. Together with Joseph Anton Koch he is generally considered the most important German landscape artist of the Neo-Classical period.
The present drawing depicts the church of San Michele in the hamlet of Sant’Arcangelo (which is today part of Cava de’Tirreni) at the base of the Sorrentine Peninsula south of Naples. It was made in 1770 when the Hackert brothers still lived in Rome but spent the summer in Naples visiting Sir William Hamilton, the English ambassador at the Bourbon court. Hackert depicted the church a second time in a drawing dated 1777 (Nordhoff, no. 707) yet this later work might merely be based on the present sheet. La Cava was a popular destination for excursions. Hackert included a view of the village in the set of four scenes from the Kingdom of Naples that he etched in 1779.