Born in London in 1858 the son of Edward Hacker a line engraver, Arthur studied at the Royal Academy Schools. Also with Leon Bonnat in Paris, where a fellow student was Stanhope Forbes. The influence of his French training was evident, it made him an excellent craftsman and the skills endured throughout his career. Hacker exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1878 and his early works were mostly genre paintings. In 1882 at Liverpool, he exhibited ‘Pelagia and Philammon’, in a highly dramatic French style. ‘The Annunciation’, which was bought by the Chantry Bequest in 1892 was painted in a similar style.
When the public taste for his French influenced academic and dramatic paintings waned, Hacker established a highly lucrative career as a portrait painter who produced very accomplished portraits and strikingly effective images.He painted many society portraits, especially those with artistic connections, including Sir William Goscombe John, C. Dyson Perrins, and M. H. Speilmann. Hacker also painted London street scenes, often at night, or with rather misty effects. ‘A Wet Night in Piccadilly’ was his Diploma Work in 1910. Arthur Hacker’s wife Lillian, also a painter, exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1909-1924.
Arthur Hacker became a well-known painter of portraits, genre works, large allegorical pictures and he excelled in painting the nude. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1894 and granted full membership.