Son of a portrait painter with whom he first trained, Hackert continued his studies from 1755 with the landscape painter Blaise Nicolas Le Sueur at the Berlin Academy. In 1762 the artist left Berlin and embarked on a trip around northern Germany that took him to Sweden where in 1764 Baron Von Olthoff introduced him to the Stockholm court. For the Swedish monarch Hackert painted a View of Karlsberg (private collection), as well as executing various drawings for the queen and his first series of prints with views of Sweden. In 1765 he is documented in Hamburg, leaving there for Paris. In France he met the celebrated printmaker and landscape painter Johan Georg Wille, who became a friend and teacher. Finally, in 1768, Hackert left for Italy, visiting Livorno, Pisa and Florence before settling in Rome. There he became associated with the community of German artists living in the capital, whose leading figures were Mengs and Winckelmann. A tireless traveller, over the following years Hackert visited Sicily in 1777 and Switzerland in 1778, during which time he made numerous sketches and drawings, later used as the basis for his paintings or prints of landscapes. Hackert was a key figure in the development of the print as an independent medium. In 1782 the artist met Ferdinand IV of Naples, and four years later became his court painter. His views of Italy were highly appreciated and known throughout Europe. Hackert owed much of his fame to the support he received from his friend Goethe, whom he met in Naples in 1787 and who praised Hackert’s skills in his Italian Journey. The 1799 Revolution obliged the artist to leave Naples and he settled permanently in San Pietro di Careggi near Florence. On Hackert’s death in 1807 Goethe edited and published his memoirs.