After having been given a basic artistic education by his father and uncle, who were both painters, Jakob Philipp Hackert attended the drawing classes of Blaise Nicholas le Sueur (1716-1783), the director of the Berlin Academy, in 1758. With an early interest in landscape painting, Hackert began copying the works of Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) and Dutch seventeenth-century artists. He traveled in northern Germany where he received commissions for decorative cycles in Stralsund and Rügen, and in 1764 he visited Sweden. From 1765 until 1768 Hackert lived in Paris, where he met landscape and marine painter Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and eventually invited his brother Johann Gottlieb Hackert (1744-1773), also a landscape painter, to join him. In Paris Jakob Philipp's popular paintings, gouaches, and drawings were already being reproduced in print form. In 1768 the Hackert brothers left for Rome, which would remain their main residence until 1786, although they made countless trips in search of different types of landscape. In 1770 they visited Naples, a city that, with its natural and cultural treasures, was an important destination for any traveler to Italy. In 1771 Hackert received an important commission from Catherine II of Russia to paint a series of canvases depicting Russia's sea victory over Turkey, and this truly established his reputation. One year later his brother traveled to London in order to bring commissioned paintings to British clients; he became ill, however, and died in Bath. Jakob Philipp called his other brother, Georg Hackert (1755-1805), to Rome in order for him to engrave his paintings. Hackert's work found many prominent buyers, and he turned down an offer to become court painter in Russia. In 1782 he traveled to Naples again and was introduced to King Ferdinand IV, who commissioned several works. Four years later Hackert became his court painter. In 1787 he met several times with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) during the latter's stay in Naples; Goethe recorded their meetings in his Italienische Reise (Italian Journey, 1816-17). Goethe admired his works, and it was he who eventually urged Hackert to write his autobiog-raphy, which Goethe adapted and published after Hackert's death. Political unrest caused the royal family to seek refuge in Palermo in 1798, and the arrival of French troops in Naples one year later forced Hackert to leave the city and his comfortable existence at court. After a year in Pisa, Hackert and his brother settled in Florence in 1800. Three years later Hackert bought a nearby estate in San Pietro di Careggi, where he worked and made careful studies of rocks, trees, and plants, which he regarded as the basis of his landscapes. Among a few other works Hackert wrote one short treatise on the use of varnish, Sull'uso della vernice nella pittura (1788), and one on landscape painting, Theoretisch-praktische Anleitung zum richtigen und geschmackvollen Landschafts-Zeichnen nach der Natur (n.d.).