Anna Ancher’s way of using colours was hailed as special and distinctive right from the beginning of her career. She was fascinated by intense colours: bright yellows, pinks and purples, and her choice of colours testifies to her courage to be different and to stand out from the other Skagen painters.
On her travels to Paris in 1885 and 1889, as well as at exhibitions of French art in Copenhagen, Anna Ancher encountered the latest experiments with colour. The French Impressionists sought to capture the flickering impressions made by the world, and in order to achieve this they began to work with the complementary colours yellow/violet, orange/blue and green/red, colours that reinforce each other when put together. Anna Ancher employed this practice in many of her own works. Other artists went even further than the Impressionists and began to detach colour from reality altogether. One such artist was the French painter Paul Gauguin, whose boldly coloured paintings Anna Ancher saw in Paris and Denmark alike.
But Anna Ancher also makes these colour experiments all her own. Her distinctive palette combines the wild, bold colours of Paris with the traditional, rustic colours of Danish peasant interiors: earth colours such as ochre and burnt sienna. Colours that would never be uses by the Impressionists. Anna Ancher thus merges local, traditional colours with colours from the French avant-garde. This choice makes her use of colour very special, reaffirming Anna Ancher’s position as one of the first modern painters in Denmark.
Photo: Anna Ancher, Sunlight in the blue room, 1891. Art Museums of Skagen.