Ancher, Michael (1849 - 1927)


Original: Hope Gallery Collection
Oil on Canvas: 20" x 12" x 1 1/2"
Catalog# ANCM-001

Danish painter Michael Ancher studied at Kongelige Akademi for de Skønne Kunster in Copenhagen. Settled in Skagen where he executed the majority of his paintings, Ancher was most noted for his ability to group large numbers of figures, treating each as a portrait in itself. Ancher's rather lackluster approach to color remarkably improved following a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (1882) where he was greatly impressed and influenced by the Dutch Old Masters. His wife Anna and daughter Helgar are also painters. Their home in Skagen is now a museum.

(b Rutsker, 9 June 1849; d Skagen, 19 Sept 1927). He studied at the Kongelige Akademi for de Skønne Kunster, Copenhagen (1871–5), where his teachers Wilhelm Marstrand and Frederik Vermehren encouraged his interest in genre painting. He first visited Skagen in 1874 and settled there in 1880, having found that subject-matter drawn from local scenery was conducive to his artistic temperament.

In "Will He Manage to Weather the Point?" (1880; Copenhagen, Kon. Saml.) several fishermen stand on the shore, evidently watching a boat come in. The firmly handled composition focuses on the group of men (the boat itself is invisible); each figure is an individual portrait that captures a response to the moment.

Ancher’s skill at grouping large numbers of figures with heroic monumentality compensates for his lackluster color sense. A change in his use of color is noticeable in the works produced after an influential visit to Vienna in 1882; he was deeply impressed by the Dutch Old Masters at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, especially the Vermeers. Their effect on his painting can be seen in the Sick Girl (1883), a subject he repeated three times (Copenhagen, Stat. Mus. Kst; Skagen, Skagens Mus.; Copenhagen, Hirschsprungske Saml.).