Anna Ancher is often referred to as a ‘painter of interiors’ – suggesting that she mostly painted scenes depicting living rooms, bedrooms and other indoor spaces. However, if you consider her entire production, it becomes clear that this is a gross simplification. Landscape painting accounts for much more of Anna Ancher’s production than has previously been assumed.
Landscape paintings can be found scattered throughout most of her oeuvre: sun-drenched urban scenes, the beaches of Skagen by moonlight, and depictions of the local countryside. The works are very diverse in nature. Many of her landscape studies seem like almost abstract experiments in which two planes of colour meet, while other works are dripping with atmosphere and charged with meaning.
The many small studies of moorland landscapes around Skagen testify to Anna Ancher’s interest in simplifying the grand landscapes, capturing them in small, dense colour compositions. Yet at the same time, the Nordic evocative landscape is also a specific category that enjoyed particular prominence in the 1890s. Here, artists often portray figures in landscapes in ways that do not objectively represent the world, but are dense with symbolic significance and atmosphere. In some of Anna Ancher’s landscapes, she veers towards such evocative landscapes. In Anna Ancher’s work, ‘the landscape as symbol’ and ‘the landscape as impression’ thrive side by side.
Photo: Anna Ancher, Harvesters, 1905. Art Museums of Skagen.