Joseph Bernard (a.k.a. Hans Zatzka)

Austrian, 1864-1933 or 1859-1945 Biography

Hans Zatzka, also known as P. Ronsard, Zabateri, Pierre de Ronsard, Joseph Bernard and Bernárd Zatzka, was born March 8, 1859 in Vienna to a builder and his Viennese actress wife, Hilde Sochor.

Zatzka showed an early interest in painting. From 1877 to 1882, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, studying under Christian Griepenkerl, Karl Wurzinger, and Carl of Blaas. In 1880, at the age of 20, he was awarded the Golden Fügermedal, the golden decoration for services to the city of Vienna.

After several trips to Italy, Hans worked as a freelance painter in Vienna, painting ceiling frescoes in stairway houses and residential buildings, numerous murals for altars in churches, and portraits. It was during this time that he developed as special interest in academic genre paintings of idyllic women and cupids. From these representations, Zatzka turned to painting guardian angel images, elves, sensuous female figures, genre scenes, allegories and other popular motifs. 

Zatzka painted in the style of his predecessor, Hans Makart. He was a greatly influenced by the operas of Richard Wagner and was considered groundbreaking in the production of "bedroom pictures" or "towel format", a term used to describe a format that fit the low ceiling and cramped spaces. By the 1920s, this style was the size of choice for most European homes.

By the turn of the century, Zatzka's pictures were turned to postcards, which were sold in the galleries of Viennese artists and to other publishers. In 1906, Zatzka gave precise orders for mass production on a trial basis. By 1914, the first of Hans Zatzkas' bedroom images were distributed.

Hans Zatzka did not make his living from postcards, but from his religious frescoes in churches, altar paintings, and other large commissions in Vienna during the 1920s. He lived in his home studio, never took in students or teaching jobs, and painted until the 80th year of his life. 

Hans Zatzka died December 17, 1945.

Golden Fügermedal, Vienna, Austria, 1880