Lot 4
  • 4

Vilhelm Hammershøi

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vilhelm Hammershøi
  • Interior with a Marble Niche
  • signed with initials lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 84 by 72cm., 33 by 28¼in.


E. Segelcke, Denmark (by 1918)
Sale: Bruun Ramussen, 8 October 1964, lot 56
Sale: Kunsthallen, Copenhagen, 24 May 1973, lot 69
Sale: Kunsthallen, Copenhagen, 29 November 1978, lot 48
Private collection, USA
Acquired by the family of the present owners circa 2000


Oslo, Modums Blaafarveværk, Den forunderlige stillheten: Ida Lorentzen, Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916), 2005, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue


Alfred Bramsen and Sophus Michaëlis, Vilhelm Hammershøi. Kunstneren og hans Værk, Copenhagen, 1918, p. 112, no. 372, catalogued (as Marmor-nichen, with incorrect dimensions)


The following condition report has been prepared by Hamish Dewar Ltd., 13 and 14 Mason's Yard, St James', London, SW1Y 6BU: UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural Condition The canvas is unlined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. This is providing an even and stable structural support. Paint surface The paint surface has an even varnish layer. The paint surface is entirely stable. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows a thin rectangular outline of retouching running approximately 7 cm from the edges of the composition which may possibly relate to stretcherbar lines from a previous support. Inspection under ultra-violet light also shows a vertical line of retouching close to the upper part of the left edge, and some further small spots and lines of retouching in the four corners of the composition. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition.
"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

Painted in 1914, the present work is among Hammershøi’s last important compositions. In 1909 the new owners of Strandgade 30 – the artist’s home of some eleven years, which played the central role in the development of his aesthetic – forced Hammershøi and his wife to leave. For the next four years the couple moved twice around Copenhagen until in 1913 the opportunity arose to live at Strandgade 25, exactly across the street from their previous home. The flat was located within the late Baroque buildings of the Danish Asiatic Company, and although the rent was costly, Hammershøi hoped the return to Strandgade would serve as a catalyst to re energise his artistic production. Yet in June the following year his beloved mother Frederikke died, Hammershøi himself progressively succumbed to illness, and in 1915 he would paint only one, final work.

Illuminated by the bright, southerly light filtering through the tall street-facing windows, depicted bare and without curtains, the present work takes as its structural motif the room’s baroque marble niche, visible in a contemporary photograph of the artist (fig. 1).

Whereas Hammershøi’s few other interiors from Strandgade 25 focus entirely on the long enfilade of rooms through the apartment, in the present work the viewpoint takes a different angle, precisely towards the couple’s previous address across the street. The objects depicted are significant: Windsor chairs appear only in the artist’s Strandgade 25 interiors, however, the glistening black-painted stove looks back to the landmark interiors through Hammershøi’s career, including the first interior he painted in 1888. Rare in Hammershøi’s minimalist oeuvre, the floral still life recalls Interior of Woman Placing Branches in a Vase on Table of 1900, yet while Ida appears prominently there, the absence of a human figure in the present work heightens the isolation of the scene.

The tightly-painted niche and furniture here give the scene its structure, however in this work the windows dissolve in a shimmering pool of light, serving to heighten the enigmatic atmosphere of the scene. Hammershøi’s VH signature – by no means common in his oeuvre – emphasises he considered the scene complete.