- Vilhelm Hammershøi
- White Doors, Strandgade 25
- oil on canvas
- 45 by 40cm., 17¾ by 15¾in.
J. Chr. T. Levinsen (purchased at the above sale)
Sale: Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 18 November 2008, lot 64
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
After living for eleven years at Strandgade 30, Vilhelm and Ida Hammershøi were evicted from their apartment when the owner sold the dilapidated building in 1909. Following two interim moves, they found a suitable home in November 1912, again in Strandgade, but this time on the first floor of the building formerly occupied by the Asiatic Company. The apartment had much in common with their former home just across the street. Ida wrote to her mother-in-law: 'Now I must tell you that Vilhelm has taken the apartment in the Asiatic Company. He has signed the lease and sent it off. And he is immensely happy about it. It is expensive, but he thinks that it will be profitable anyway for him to live in a place where he can paint, and it is a good apartment' (letter of 30 November 1912, quoted in Poul Vad, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1988, p. 332).
With a similar enfilade of interconnecting rooms, and decorated in neutral greys and whites, the new premises provided the backdrop for a series of evocative interiors, with and without Ida (fig. 1). Painted in 1913, the present work is devoid of all props, the solitary white doors denoting both absence and presence: for although unoccupied, as the only object to punctuate the silent space they assume an almost anthropomorphic quality. Despite his comparatively free brushstroke, Hammershøi’s attention to the play of light and shadow, and the reflection of light off surfaces, is as subtle and masterful as ever.