Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 62

   ‒    
Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, the Painter Anna Ancher
Oil on canvas,
in. (
       :
Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Auction no.
(Helga Ancher’s estate),
, lot
; Bruun Rasmussen, Auction
, lot
, ill.
         :
Scandinavia House, New York,
Danish Paintings from the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough, Selections from the
Collection of Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr.
, no.
he marriage between the two painters Anna and Michael Ancher was a long and happy one, not only
in a banal sense, but also because Anna was one of the few women of her generation to be given the
possibility of developing fully as an artist. At the end of the
th century, when social equality was still
unknown, women normally had to abandon a career when they married, and many of their talents were
lost. Things were di
erent in the Ancher family, where Michael Ancher actually encouraged his wife to
paint and exhibit. He admired her talent and acknowledged that it was greater than his own. Although she
was ten years younger than he and only
years of age when they
rst met, he always valued her opinion.
Nor did any professional jealousy arise between them, as otherwise happens in many marriages between
artists. She was likewise respected by the other Skagen painters, who looked on her as a professional and
equal. So Anna Ancher could con
dently enjoy being an artist and came to exude the self-con
dence that
is re
ected in this portrait.
Anna Ancher was not tall, but she always stood very straight, which together with her personal quali-
ties gave her a natural dignity. Her characteristic pro
le, which in part was because she had broken her nose
as a child, contributed to this dignity. Michael Ancher often chose her pro
le when he painted her, for
instance in the head and shoulders portrait of
, painted on the occasion of their engagement and in the
ed full
gure portrait of
(Den Hirschsprungske Samling).
The same applies to the portrait in the Loeb collection, in which Anna Ancher is wearing a black dress
with a mediaeval-type silver belt such as was very fashionable at the time.
A necklace can be seen on the
high-necked blue dickey, a chain holding an anchor fastened as a brooch, presumably a symbolic gift from
her husband, whose surname in Danish literally means “anchor.” This brooch is seen in numerous paint-
ings, but has apparently not survived. The pose in this portrait is somewhat reminiscent of that in the one
Ancher was commissioned to paint by the Charlottenborg Exhibition Committee (now in the Museum of
National History at Frederiksborg Castle).
The Loeb collection portrait of Anna was among the
paintings that left the Anchers’ house on the
occasion of the
rst of the two auctions that, in accordance with the will of their daughter Helga Ancher,
were held in order to
nance the restoration of the house and the works of art so that the artists’ home
could open as a museum. There is a smaller portrait of her there today that must have been painted on the
same occasion. Her dress and the accessories are the same, but in that one Anna Ancher is seen full face.
A large amount of such jewellery was made at the end of the
th century, and this belt has been preserved in the museum Michael and Anna
Ancher’s House. I am grateful to the art historian Inge Mejer Antonsen for this information.
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