Urgent Museum Notice

Anna Ancher

A black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult woman with her hair pulled back neatly. She smiles faintly and wears a lacy, high-collared, white dress with an anchor and chain brooch.

Photo by Frederik Riise; Department of Maps, Print, and Photographs, The Royal Library, Denmark

1859–1935

Anna Ancher was the only member of the Skagen Painters, an artists’ colony on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, to be born in the town of Skagen. Her parents, Erik and Ane Brøndum, owned the remote town’s only inn. From an early age, Ancher was exposed to visiting artists’ artwork and discussions.

As a woman, Ancher was not allowed to enroll at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Beginning in 1875, however, Ancher attended a private art school in Copenhagen run by Danish artist Vilhelm Kyhn. She returned to train with Kyhn for three subsequent winters. She also learned from painters who visited Skagen, including Karl Madsen and Michael Ancher, her future husband. Unusual for her time—thanks to her family’s support and the eased finances that accompanied Michael’s and Anna’s professional successes—Ancher continued painting even after the birth of the couple’s daughter, Helga, in 1883.

Ancher was part of the “Modern Breakthrough,” a Scandinavian movement in art and literature that, like French Naturalism and Realism, rejected idealization, and instead sought to capture the “real.” Ancher, especially, sought to capture the fleeting effects of light on her canvases, demonstrating the influence of Impressionist works she saw during trips to Paris in 1885 and 1888. She painted primarily small-scale interior scenes, reminiscent of Johannes Vermeer and Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Anna Ancher
  • Birth

    Skagen, Denmark, 1859
  • Death

    Skagen, Denmark, 1935

Works by Anna Ancher

Fisher Woman in Profile

Figures in profile, especially women, often appear in Anna Ancher’s paintings. Influenced by the tenets of Realism, Ancher directly observed her subjects and portrayed them in an un-idealized manner. Bust-length paintings of a solitary figure against a dark background are frequently seen in the work of 17th-century northern European artists like Rembrandt, whose work Ancher would have seen in museums...

Painting of a light-skinned, older woman in profile, wearing a rust-brown headscarf with beige and yellow embroidered detail along the bottom, rendered loosely, against a dark background.