Albert Anker was born on April 1st, 1831 in Ins in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. He is considered the greatest Swiss painter of the 19th century.
At the age of 11 he visited the exhibition "La Société des amis des Arts" in Neuchatel, which sparked his early interest in art. Anker attended the Kirchenfeld grammar school in Bern and graduated from high school. At the instruction of his father, he began studying theology in Bern and later at the University of Halle. Later he got permission to pursue a career as an artist. He dropped out of theology studies and moved to Paris. He earned his living by drawing lessons and copying paintings. In November he became a student of the well-known Swiss painter Charles Gleyre.
From 1855 to 1860 Anker attended the "Ècole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris". During his studies he took part in exhibitions in the Paris Salon and in Switzerland.
In 1864 Albert Anker married Anna Rüfli, a friend of his late sister Louise. With Anna he had six children, two of whom died very early. In order to pay for the maintenance of his family, Anker worked as a faience painter. He decorated more than 500 faience plates for the Alsatian manufacturer Théodore Deck.
Albert Anker was very popular and well-known in Switzerland, he led an active social life and was a member of many international juries. In 1901, Anker suffered a severe stroke, which left his right hand paralyzed. His ability to work was considerably restricted. It was difficult for him to work on large oil paintings and he concentrated more on watercolors.
Albert Anker died on July 16, 1910 at the age of 79 in his house in Ins. Many of Anker's works have appeared on Swiss stamps to date. To honor him, the Albert Anker Foundation was established and a studio in Ins, where he spent most of his life, turned into a museum.