Back to Members

Hans Zatzka
(1859 — 1945)

Hans Zatzka was an Austrian painter known for his classical academic realism style. Born in Vienna in 1859, Zatzka showed an early interest in painting. From 1877 to 1882, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he studied under the tutelage of several famed Austro-German artists of the time, renowned for their grasp of allegorical representation, classical mythology and historical portraiture. After his formal studies, Zatzka worked as a freelance painter in Vienna, painting rich frescoes in residential buildings and numerous alter murals for churches throughout Vienna and the neighbouring Innsbruck area. It is during this time that his particular appreciation of the academic genre is thought to have been developed. His skill in representing idyllic women and cupids soon grew to reflect other influences, and themes inspired by the operas of famed composer Richard Wagner were among his most notable cultural reflections. His command of the popular bedroom image or ‘towel format’ of painting during the early 1900s allowed his work to be appreciated both formally and informally, in galleries and within the home. Zatzka is considered to be one of the most noted artists of the age to have paintings reproduced as picture postcards, a format which allowed his work to be mass produced and thus appreciated by the masses. Though known commercially for his widely distributed postcards, Zatzka continued to paint large scale traditional frescoes, altar paintings and murals in churches and chapels in his native Vienna from the mid-1920s until very late in to his life. Whether presented as colourful mythological scenes featuring nymphs and fairies, dreamlike religious allegories or as lesser-known cultural studies of exotic lands, the wide ranging work of Zatzka always featured a strong command on realism, and of the female body. The artist died in 1945.