Lot 8
  • 8

Vilhelm Hammershøi

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
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  • Vilhelm Hammershøi
  • Interior with a Bust
  • signed with initials lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 53 by 42cm., 21 by 16½in.


Galerie Eduard Schulte, Berlin (by 1905/08)
Purchased from the above by the grandfather of the present owner


Held in a dark-painted Dutch-style frame, with a gilt inner accent. The following condition report has been provided by Hamish Dewar Ltd, of 13 & 14 Mason's Yard, London SW1Y 6BU: Structural Condition The canvas is unlined and providing a secure and stable structural support. The upper horizontal turnover edge has been strengthened with a partial, thin strip-lining. Paint surface The paint surface has an even varnish layer and inspection under ultra-violet light shows just two very thin lines of inpainting. These are: 1) a thin vertical line running up from the left end of the lower horizontal framing edge. This is approximately 4 cm in length. 2) A thin diagonal line in the upper right corner which is approximately 2 cm in length. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in excellent and stable condition and no further work is required.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

'I have always thought there was such beauty about a room like that, even though there weren't any people in it, perhaps precisely when there weren't any'
Vilhelm Hammershøi

The setting for this haunting interior is most probably the dining room of Hammershøi's apartment at Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen, where he and his wife Ida lived from 1898 until 1909. The room is illuminated from the street-facing windows on the left, and also just to the left but out of view is the connecting door to the drawing room. The distinctive brass door lock and the three-panel door design are clearly recognisable in other paintings of the room, while the bust, which appears to be a cast after one by Desiderio da Settignano in the Bargello, Florence, is found in another interior of Strandgade (fig.1).

The stamp on the stretcher of Berlin art dealer Eduard Schulte, who held solo exhibitons of Hammershøi's work in 1905 and 1908, speaks for the work having been executed during the Strandgade years. Interestingly, however, only a smaller picture of a bust in an interior, painted in 1899, is listed in Alfred Bramsen's catalogue raisonné of the artist's work (as no. 195). The omission from the catalogue of the present work suggests that it might have been painted before Bramsen knew Hammershøi, and that the interior could be the room at Hammershøi's previous address, the Ny Bakkehus in Rahbæks Allé, seen in Interior with Ida of 1893 (fig. 2, Göteborgs Konstmuseum).

In the final analysis, however, the setting is secondary to Hammershøi's aesthetic vision. Far more important to him was to convey a mood and an atmosphere through his interiors which, like Whistler's, are as much symphonies in light and stillness as they are depictions in time and place. Here it is the disappearance of physical human presence, alluded to only by the marble bust, that imbues the work with an acutely haunting sense of lingering.