Adolf Hacker (painter)

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Adolf Hacker (born May 11, 1873 in Schwarzenbach an der Saale , † August 14, 1943 ) was a German painter. The the realism attributed to artists of his education among others Caspar Ritter and Lovis Corinth received, has at its Hauptwirkungsort Heidelberg a reputation as painting city chronicler and as fast painter. A large part of his work consists of scenes from Heidelberg and the surrounding area as well as portraits. At a young age and again during the First World War, Hacker was also a painter in the Navy, so portraits of naval people also make up part of his work.


He was the son of the police station commandant Adam Hacker (1833–1911) and his wife Friedrike Margaretha geb. Söllner (1842-1881). The family had a total of 19 children from two of the father's marriages. Adolf Hacker was the sixth child from his first marriage and spent his youth in Hof , where he also completed an apprenticeship as a decorative and carpentry painter and attended the drawing class at the commercial training school. A bonus for his journeyman's piece made in 1890 enabled him to attend the Rosenthal art school in Munich in 1890/1891. He then switched to the Munich commercial advanced training school under Professor Georg Graef , but was expelled from school due to vandalism (he had damaged a plaster statue in a dispute with a classmate) and signed up for the navy in March 1892 in Wilhelmshaven as a painter .

In 1893 he was a guest painter on the Stein and took part in a sea voyage lasting several months to Norway, Scotland and Sweden. He was then offered a position as painter's mate on the Hohenzollern by Kaiser Wilhelm II , which he did not take on because of military misconduct. In May 1894 he was released from the navy and turned to Stuttgart to work again in his apprenticeship as a carpenter.

He came to Heidelberg for the first time in 1896 via Mannheim, Wilhelmshaven, Nuremberg and Hof . In 1896/97 he attended the painting class of Prof. Otto Hammel at the School of Applied Arts in Hanover and then returned to Heidelberg as a carpenter, where he married Johanna Beckenbach in 1898 and in 1899 opened his own painter's shop at 133 Hauptstrasse. At his residential address at 36 Ladenburger Strasse, he also ran a workshop for making glass signs.

His business developed rapidly and he employed up to 60 apprentices and journeymen per season. He gained particular fame in 1906 with his first public exhibition in Heidelberg, in which four revealing nudes briefly attracted the public prosecutor's attention. In Heidelberg, Hacker soon made a name for himself as a painting city chronicler. When the town hall fire on 2/3 In March 1908 he executed several versions of the event during the night of the fire and sold them the next day, which earned him the nickname “Schnellmaler”.

In 1909 Hacker's craft business was liquidated due to economic difficulties. His wife then opened a used furniture business in the workshop in Heidelberg, with which she financed the family's maintenance, while Hacker began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. In the class of Prof. Ernst Schurth , continued after his death by Prof. Hans Müller-Dachau , Hacker learned to draw ancient figures and portraits. His classmates included u. a. Paul Dahlen , Hermann Goebel , Arthur Grimm , Oskar Hagemann , Wilhelm Hempfing , Karl Hubbuch , Rudolf Schlichter and Georg Scholz . In 1910/11 Hacker switched to Prof. Caspar Ritter in the painting class. On the recommendation of Wilhelm Trübner , Hacker moved to Berlin in 1913 to the study studio of Lovis Corinth and from there in the winter of 1913/14 to the Académie de la Grande Chaumière under Claudio Castelucho in Paris. During the summer months from 1912 to 1914, Hacker had his own painting school in Heidelberg.

After the outbreak of World War I, Hacker volunteered for the Navy, but was initially not accepted, so he temporarily worked as a column leader of a paint factory, the United Carl Maquet factories. In November 1914 he was then called up as a painter's mate for the Navy in Wilhelmshaven. There he initially mainly created portraits of members of the navy before he held retraining courses for war disabled in the naval hospital in Hamburg-Veddel from 1916 . This activity also brought him great recognition in the citizenry. In 1918 he was awarded the Iron Cross on a white and black ribbon.

After the First World War, Hacker returned to Heidelberg, where he worked as a painting chronicler until the end of his life, recording countless scenes from political, cultural and everyday events in the city, as well as creating numerous portraits and landscapes. Further pictures were taken on many trips at home and abroad. One of his preferred travel destinations was the Black Forest , where he was for the first time before the outbreak of the First World War. In 1924 he went on a long trip to Italy. In 1933 an exhibition took place in Hof where 85 Heidelberg motifs were shown by Hackers.

Adolf Hacker died of a stroke on August 14, 1943 and was buried in the Heidelberg mountain cemetery.

“Construction of the lock at Karlstor” by Adolf Hacker, 1920s


Adolf Hacker's early work consists largely of portraits that are still in a rigid, late Biedermeier style of painting. Hacker often used photographic templates for these portraits. A more peppy and nuanced style of painting can be discerned from the visit to the Art Academy Karlsruhe in 1909, whereby the old masterly , dark-toned character of the paintings by Hacker comes from the academy teachers Schurth and Ritter and a contoured line dominates portraits. After training with Lovis Corinth and the stay in Paris, Hacker abandoned a contoured style of painting and then painted more in broad, spontaneous brush strokes, as was typical of the painterly realism of those years, with pastose paint application. After his trip to Italy, from 1925 onwards, Hacker returned to a stricter objectivity with a thinner application of paint. After 1930 almost only documentary scenes were created, which Hacker quickly executed, with parts of the image carrier often remaining unpainted, as Hacker only concentrated on the representation of certain impressions without filling the entire image format. The paintings of his late work therefore often give a fleeting impression.

Numerous paintings by Hacker have survived in public ownership, especially from the regional motifs of the lower Neckar area. In 1927 he painted a cycle of paintings with inner-city motifs for the city administration of Ziegelhausen , which is now owned by the city of Heidelberg. One of his paintings of the Heidelberg town hall fire in 1908 and a scene he painted at a Heidelberg city council meeting are in the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg . The museum in the old town hall of Neckargemünd has other works by Hacker. A large-format Heidelberg panorama (1.50 m × 6.00 m) is exhibited in the citizens' meeting place in Peterstal .

The portrait of Friedrich Ebert in the Heidelberg trade union building was also painted by Adolf Hacker. When it was supposed to be destroyed by the National Socialists in 1933, Hacker spontaneously painted over it with a portrait of Hitler so that it could not be found. The overpainting was removed after 1945.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Lehmann 2000, p. 8.
  2. Lehmann 2000, pp. 8/9.
  3. a b c d e Lehmann 2000, p. 9.
  4. Lehmann 2000, pp. 9/10.
  5. a b c d Lehmann 2000, p. 10.
  6. a b Lehmann 2000, p. 11.
  7. Lehmann 2000, pp. 11/12.
  8. Lehmann 2000, p. 12.
  9. a b c d e Lehmann 2000, p. 13.
  10. Lehmann 2000, p. 16.
  11. a b c Lehmann 2000, p. 21.
  12. a b Lehmann 2000, p. 22.
  13. Lehmann 2000, pp. 22/23.
  14. a b Lehmann 2000, p. 15.
  15. a b Lehmann 2000, pp. 70-72 (catalog part).
  16. Lehmann 2000, pp. 15/16.


  • Benno KM Lehmann: Adolf Hacker - His life and work , in: Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg (Ed.): Adolf Hacker 1873–1943 - An artist of painterly realism , Neckargemünd 2000, pp. 8–18.
  • Benno KM Lehmann: Adolf Hacker - The Painter , in: Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg (Ed.): Adolf Hacker 1873–1943 - An artist of painterly realism , Neckargemünd 2000, pp. 21–23.