Winkel & Magnussen, Copenhagen
Sale: Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 7 February 1975, lot 8
Purchased at the above sale by the mother of the present owner
The present work was painted in 1904 in the artist's home at Strandgade 30. Though her face is hidden from view, the model is undoubtedly Hammershøi's wife Ida whom he married in 1891, and who became the focus of many of his most celebrated compositions.
Ida is portrayed holding a pewter tray in an interior that is empty except for an empire washstand visible on the right. However, it is the architectural shapes and window beyond that attract the viewer's attention. Describing what inspired him most in the subjects that he drew on, Hammershøi commented: 'What makes me choose a motif, is in the first instance the lines, what I call the architectonic structure of the painting. And then the light, obviously. The light counts for a lot, but it is the lines that I like most. The colour is subordinated, I am not indifferent to the effects of colour, indeed I work hard at their harmonisation. But when I choose a motif, it seems to me that above all it is the lines that guide me' (quoted in L'univers poétique de Vilhelm Hammershøi, exh. cat. Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen & Paris, 1997, p. 28).
The present work and lots 30 to 32 emphasise the key role Hammershøi's home in Strandgade 30 played in his oeuvre. The interior decoration of the apartment was not incidental, Hammershøi and his wife had the eighteenth-century wall panelling and mouldings, as well as the doors and window frames, painted white before moving in. The artist used his home as a stage set to explore his fascination with the play of light over geometric shapes.
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