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One of Denmark’s most celebrated artists is Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916). Born in Copenhagen, he was known as a painter of portraits, architecture, and interiors. Later he became known as the painter of tranquil rooms. He used the interior spaces in his apartment at Strandgade 30 as his studio and subject matter for many of his paintings.
Hammershøi’s paintings reflected a quiet solitude. He used a very muted, gray-themed palette that gave his work a strained elegance. Many of his paintings were of interior rooms with a lone female figure dressed in black with her back turned to the viewer. An example of this can be seen in Interior with Young Woman from Behind with his wife, Ida Ilsted, a frequent model in his paintings, as the young woman. This painting creates a mood of coolness and mystery as we wonder what the woman is hiding or why she has turned her back to us. We are aware there must be a window in the room by the light reflected on the woman’s neck. The exquisite detail he uses in painting the object on the cabinet shows us his fine aesthetic for design. The quiet stillness of the room makes the viewer pause to reflect. His paintings are reminiscent of Vermeer with a dash of Hopper but remain his own unique and enigmatic style.
After his death from throat cancer at age 51, Hammershøi seemed to be forgotten. After almost 100 years, however, his work was revived with exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001 and the Royal Academy of Art in 2008. His classic yet modern work remains sought after by a new generation of art lovers.
- Heidi Werber
Do you want more paintings by Hammershøi? Read our article "The Quiet Life Of Vilhelm Hammershøi Interiors" on DailyArtDaily.com