ANCHER, Michael Peter
(b. 1849, Rutsker, d. 1927, Skagen)


Danish painter, part of a family of painters, husband of Anna Kirstine Ancher. He studied at the Kongelige Akademi for de Skønne Kunster, Copenhagen (1871-75), where his teachers Wilhelm Marstrand and Frederik Vermehren encouraged his interest in genre painting. One of his student companions was Karl Madsen (1855-1938) who invited him to travel to Skagen, a small fishing village in the far north of Jutland where the Baltic and North Sea converge. From the mid-1870s, he and Madsen became key members of a group of artists who congregated there each summer, known as the Skagen Painters.

After Ancher first visited Skagen in 1874, he settled there joining the growing society of artists. The colony of painters regularly met in the Brøndums Hotel in Skagen in order to exchange ideas. In 1880 Ancher married fellow painter and Skagen native Anna Brøndum, whose father owned the Brøndums Hotel. In the first years of their marriage, the couple had a home and studio in the "Garden House", which is now in Skagens Museum's garden.

Ancher's skill at grouping large numbers of figures with heroic monumentality compensates for his lacklustre colour sense. A change in his use of colour 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 (Skagens Museum, Skagen).

He achieved his artistic breakthrough with the painting Vil han klare pynten (Will He Round the Point?) (1880; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen). In it 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.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.