The four children stand expectantly on the threshold. The biggest of them, two girls with headscarves, hold the gaping mouth of a large cod in their hands. With this spontaneous-looking everyday scene, Anna Ancher demonstrates her sure talent for observation. The bright daylight of the interior – reflected in various tones on the threshold and surrounding the group of children – is depicted to great effect.
Ancher, who was a member of the Skagen artists’ colony, was an important pioneer of modern Danish painting. Stimulated by the artistic environment in Skagen, she attended a private drawing school for women in Copenhagen. At that time women were still prohibited from studying at the academy of art. As an artist she was initially interested in the Danish art of the Golden Age and seventeenth-century Dutch interior painting. In 1885 she set out on a journey to Paris via the Netherlands, together with her husband – the painter Michael Ancher – as well as their friends and fellow artists Peder Severin Krøyer and Viggo Johansen. The influence of modern French painting reveals itself in her works’ depiction of vivid reflected light and their loose brushwork. Among Skagen’s painters, Ancher’s pictures of figures in interiors stand out on account of their high-contrast and intense tonalities.