Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 43

ANNA KIRSTINE ANCHER, NÉE BRØNDUM
      ‒       
Anna Ancher became acquainted with art through the painters visiting her family’s hostelry in Ska-
gen where she grew up. Situated at the northernmost tip of Denmark, Skagen

years ago was a
poor market town at the “back-of-beyond;” there was no harbour and no access by road or rail led to
it, so it was almost completely isolated from the rest of the country. Nevertheless, Anna Ancher
became one of the most famous of Danish artists, the
fi
rst woman painter to be mentioned on a par
with the male counterparts of her time. Her proli
fi
c artistic gifts were born in her, and her mother was
convinced that this was because the famous writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen
(


), was for the
fi
rst and only time a guest in the Brøndum inn on the night she was born.
In May

and

, Skagen received visits from the Danish Golden Age painter Martinus Rør-
bye who, like Andersen, was fond of visiting unfamiliar parts, and during the

’s and

’s
increasing numbers of artists began visiting the place. Anna studied the results of their work
intensely, and in secret she herself began to paint. In

the young
fi
gure painter Michael Ancher
arrived; he was still a pupil in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and was overwhelmed with
enthusiasm for Skagen and the motifs he found there. Although Anna was then only fourteen years
old, the spontaneous liking the two felt for each other soon turned into love.
From the start, Michael Ancher and the other artists visiting Skagen encouraged her talents and
gave the girl her
fi
rst professional guidance. Her family, which belonged to the Skagen bourgeoisie,
enabled her to spend three winters receiving private instruction in Vilhelm Kyhn’s private school of
painting in Copenhagen. During the summers she painted on her own in Skagen, in close contact with
her
fi
ancé Michael Ancher. The year

was a decisive one for Anna. On visiting the Charlottenborg
exhibition, she had her
fi
rst direct experience of French art and was especially taken with a painting
by J. F. Millet (


), owned by the brewer Carl Jacobsen and whose work became of great impor-
tance to her. That same summer, Skagen became the meeting place for various painters with European
experience, including the Norwegians Christian Krohg (


), who had trained in Germany, and
Frits Thaulow (


), who was fascinated with the new fashions in French art that were mov-
ing in the direction of a more true-to-life and objective portrayal of reality. The ideas appealed to
Anna, who intuitively changed her painting style. During the spring of

at the age of twenty, she
made her debut in Charlottenborg, exhibiting a painting of an old man carving a stick, a work that
attracted decidedly positive reactions both from the press and her artist friends.
Plein air painting had come to Scandinavia, and during the following summers Skagen attracted
a number of outstanding Danish, Norwegian and Swedish painters who brought about the Modern
Breakthrough in Danish painting. The “Skagen Painters” became a familiar concept, and among
them Anna was considered an equal, herself contributing to the movement with important paintings
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