The legendary Danish painter and one of the most prized members of the Skagen School, Michael Peter Ancher was a master artist best known for his realistic depictions of the lives of the fishing folk in Skagen. Michael wasn’t born in Skagen, but visited there in the year 1874 and was so enormously fascinated by the fisherman’s town that he decided to spend the rest of his life there. He found the local conducive to his artistic temperament. As opposed to the rigid formations and composition methods which he learned through his formal education, Ancher came in contact with the new methods and philosophy sweeping over Denmark while he was at Skagen. His marriage to Anna Brondum, a painter, who was also a native of Skagen, is seen as a major factor in his shift in perspective. Ancher went on to become one of the most popular of Danish artists and an eminent face of the Skagen painters.
Michael Ancher’s Childhood And Early Life
Ancher was born on 9 June 1849 at Rustker on the island of Bornholm, Denmark. He had an education in the classical mould prevalent at that time. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen from 1871 – 1875. During his term there, his interest in genre painting grew manifolds. It was also during that time he came in contact with Karl Madsen, who invited him to Skagen. His decision to accept the invitation and visit Skagen went on to shape not only his artistic perspective, but also his subsequent life.
Marriage And Career
After his first visit to Skagen in 1874, he decided to settle there among the many artists who had made Skagen their home. It was there that his career finally took off, with the painting ‘Vil han klare pynten’ (Will he Round the Point?) in 1879. The following year he married his fellow Skagen painter Anna Brondum. Ancher, who initially struggled to adjust to the style of the Skagen painters, later combined the techniques learned from his formal education with that of the Skagen group to create a new style. The rigid compositional structure taught at the conventional school was brought in to harmony with the enhanced importance of color and natural light that the new Skagen perspective demanded. As was the case with most of his fellow painters in the Skagen group, Ancher’s paintings depicted the scenery as well as the lives of the fisher folk of Skagen. Death and the rescue operations at sea often formed a major theme of his paintings. Some of his famous works in the style, which came to be called monumental figurative arts, include ‘The Lifeboat is Carried Through The Dunes’, ‘The Crew are Saved’, and ‘The Drowned Man’ among others. The residence of the Anchers has now been converted into a museum, which holds the works of the Skagen painters. Ancher’s own works can be found elsewhere too including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Frederiksborg Museum.
Death And Legacy
Michael Ancher is one of the best remembered painters of not just the Skagen group, but Denmark as a whole. His works faithfully depict the lives of the fisher folk of Skagen. He went about with great dedication to his art and combined the old-school thoughts with those of the emerging perspectives. He and other Skagen painters patronized naturalism and bordered on expressionism in their works. Michael Ancher along with his wife Anna contributed greatly to the art of Denmark. Though works on the Skagen museum had started during his lifetime, Ancher passed away before it was inaugurated. Michael Ancher died on September 19, 1927 in Skagen, aged 78.
Awards And Honors
In recognition of his contributions to the field of art, he was bestowed the Eckersberg Medal in 1889 and the Order of the Dannebrog in 1894. Possibly, the best recognition of his contribution to Danish art came long after his death when he and his wife Anna were featured on the Danish Thousand Kronerbill, the largest denomination in circulation in Denmark in 2004.