Lot 124
  • 124

Vilhelm Hammershøi Danish, 1864-1916

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  • Vilhelm Hammershøi
  • interieur med staffeli, bredgade 25 (Interior with easel, bredgade 25)
  • oil on canvas
  • 79 by 71cm., 31 by 28in.


Sale: Sotheby's, London, 26 February 1975, lot 86 (as one of a pair; the accompanying painting is now in the Konstmuseum, Malmö: fig. 2)
Maltzahn Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1975

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1910.

Hammershøi and his wife Ida lived at Bredgade 25 from 1910 until 1913. During that time the space provided inspiration for a number of interior paintings, including the present one which was painted from the same position as those in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (fig 1), and in the Konstmuseum, Malmö (fig 2). Sold together as a pair in these rooms in 1975, it seems likely that the present work was the companion piece to the aforementioned painting with the same measurements hanging in Malmö.

Interior with Easel illustrates Hammershøi's remarkable ability to capture a sense of timelessness and introspective solitude, his observation of the rarefied light against the geometric forms and sharp angles of the apartment adding to the powerful effect. In his interior landscapes, 'light is the principal subject...and that light is the meagre Danish winter light, the light of grey weather quite without colour, warmth, or gaiety, albeit so rich in nuance...There is a light that pours in over the canvas and defines the space...The light is usually indirect for, of course, Hammershøi also knows that indirect light is often the most beautiful...' (Hanne Finsen and Inge Vibeke Raaschou-Nielsen, Vilhelm Hammershøi, En Retrospektiv udstilling, Copenhagen, 1981, p. 16).

The sense of seclusion and introspection in Hammershøi's paintings is central to Symbolism, of which Hammershøi is now regarded as a leading exponent. In his observation of light and space he was influenced by James McNeill Whistler, whose work he first saw when exhibiting two of his own paintings at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. Hammershøi's interiors resonate with the same silvery-grey palette found both in Whistler's interiors and in his nocturnes.

Fig. 1, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with easel, Bredgade 25, 1910, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen 660D06101

Fig. 2, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior with potted plant on a card table, Bredgade 25, 79 by 71cm., 1910-11, Konstmuseum, Malmö 649D06101