Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 52

MICHAEL PETER ANCHER
        ,     ‒       
Strength of purpose, ambition and industry were the qualities that ensured Michael Ancher a place
among the best in his generation. The path by which he became a successful
fi
gure painter was long
and di
ffi
cult. At the age of
fi
fteen he was forced to leave the grammar school in Rønne on the island
of Bornholm on account of his father’s bankruptcy. He found work in the administration o
ffi
ce of the
Kalø estate in Jutland, where the beautiful surroundings attracted many landscape artists. In Jutland
Ancher encountered Theodor Philipsen (


) and Vilhelm Groth (


) and he was seized
by a desperate longing to become an artist himself.
In

he was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he made rapid
progress, but he never managed to take the
fi
nal examination. In

he made his
fi
rst appearance in
the Spring Exhibition in Charlottenborg, and when he visited Skagen for the
fi
rst time that summer,
he became
fi
lled with such enthusiasm about the people and natural surroundings of the place that he
decided to develop his skills there by virtue of his own e
ff
orts. Playing a part in this decision was the
fact that he fell in love with Anna Brøndum, who was then only fourteen years old, but whose artis-
tic talent he immediately perceived.
Eventually his goals were successful. In

Michael Ancher achieved a unique success with his
breakthrough painting
Vil han klare Pynten? (Will He Round the Point?)
, which was purchased
by the king. That same summer he and Anna were able to celebrate their wedding in Skagen, when
she was twenty-one.
In

Michael Ancher had his
fi
rst opportunity to see French art when the brewer Carl Jacobsen
of the Carlsberg Breweries exhibited his as yet modest private collection in Copenhagen. A painting
by J.F. Millet (


) made a powerful impression on both him and Anna, and that summer Ska-
gen was visited by artists with European experience: Karl Madsen (


) as well as the Norwe-
gians Frits Thaulow (


) and Christian Krohg (


), who brought realism, naturalism
and plein air painting with them. During the summer of

, and under their inspiration, Ancher
painted the
fi
rst sunshine picture in Skagen,
Figurer i et landskab (Figures in a Landscape),
now
in the museum Den Hirschsprungske Samling, portraying an old man and a young woman sitting on
the sand, thereby manifesting himself as a painter of the Modern Breakthrough. The painting made
both Ancher and Skagen known among the modern Scandinavian plein air painters, who in succeed-
ing years congregated in Skagen and there formed the colony of artists that came to be known as the
“Skagen Painters.”
Michael Ancher was thus already established as a modern painter when P.S. Krøyer arrived in
Skagen in

and the place changed character for good. Ancher rightly feared competition; his
monopoly as “the” Skagen painter had been broken, though the two rivals nevertheless ended by
becoming close friends.

]
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