Anna Ancher's works are full of portraits of the people who were close to her and always near at hand: her mother Ane Brøndum, sisters Marie and Hulda, husband Michael Ancher and their daughter Helga, as well as the young girls who helped around the house. In 1910, Anna Ancher said in a letter to her friend, engineer Palle Bruun: ‘it is so convenient with models, one knows them and they are easily available; and as one is a creature of comfort, one stays in one’s place’.
Anna Ancher’s portraits are depictions of those she loved, but also of the people who happened to be available as models. As a result, Anna Ancher depicts the same people over and over again. Their facial features were well known to her, allowing her to use them as the starting point for working with form, composition and colour.
Her portraits involve more than simply the rendition of faces. Anna Ancher often includes the room as part of the portrait; you may even get the feeling that the room and the figure merge. She uses flowers, objects and furniture as descriptive props that help convey the sitter’s character. At the same time, Anna Ancher works with composition and colour to connect the figure and space, creating a sense of unity. In so doing, Anna Ancher balances between narrative content and pure experimentation with colour and shapes.
Anna Ancher, Young girl in front of a lighted lamp, ca. 1893. Art Museums of Skagen.