Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Anna Ancher (1859-1935) - An Impressionist in Denmark
The Skagen Museum celebrated the 150th anniversary of Anna Ancher's birth this year. She was a member the Skagen School of Impressionists that formed in this picturesque, sunny village which sits on the north end of the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. She had actually grown up there, the daughter of an innkeeper. When she was born, Hans Christian Andersen was a guest, and Anna's mother saw this as an omen of special talents in her daughter. As a teenager, Anna studied art in Copenhagen for three winters, and ten years later in Paris at the atelier of Pierre Puvis de Chavennes. As Skagen became an artist's colony, she learned from the artists who spent time at her parents' inn: the poet and artist Holger Drachmann, Carl Lacher, Karl Madsen, Christian Krohg, P.S. Kroyer, Viggo Johansen, Swedish painter Oscar Bjork, Danish court portraitist Laurits Tuxen, and painter Michael Ancher, who would marry Anna.
She became a sucessful painter, receiving medals in Paris for her entries in the Expositions Universelles of 1889 and 1900, one of only two Danish painters to receive praise by the French critics. She won medals at other international and Danish exhibitions, including the Ingenio et Arti medal from the Danish king in 1913.
Her subject matter was primarily domestic scenes and figures, but she focused to a great extent on color, light and the abstract arrangement of shapes (see "Sunshine in the Blue Room," below).
The Skagen Museum was founded by the artists themselves in 1908 and has about 1500 of their works. More paintings are on view a few blocks away at the restored, 200-year-old Ancher house, which includes both Michael's and Anna's studios. Many doors in the house have been painted with birds and tulips by Michael and Helga, their daughter.
Dictionary of Women Artists
Delia Gaze (Editor) Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997
Gourmet Magazine, July 1997, "A Painters' Paradise by the Sea" by Anne Roston