46
46

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF AMBASSADOR JOHN LANGELOTH LOEB, JR.

Vilhelm Hammershøi
INTERIØR, STRANDGADE 30
Estimate
2,500,0003,500,000
JUMP TO LOT
46

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF AMBASSADOR JOHN LANGELOTH LOEB, JR.

Vilhelm Hammershøi
INTERIØR, STRANDGADE 30
Estimate
2,500,0003,500,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York

Vilhelm Hammershøi
1864 - 1916
INTERIØR, STRANDGADE 30

Provenance

Konrad Levysohn, Copenhagen (acquired by 1899 and until at least 1918)

Sale: Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, January 24, 1984, lot 96 (titled Interiør med kvinde stående ved bord)

Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

Copenhagen, Den frie Udstilling, 1899, no. 49 (titled Interiør)

Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1916, no. 142 (titled Stue med en pige, der sætter en kop paa et rundt bord)

Cambridge, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Danish Paintings of the Nineteenth Century from the Collection of Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr., 1994, no. 7, illustrated in color on the back cover of the catalogue (titled Interior with Woman Standing at a Table)

Greenwich, Bruce Museum of Arts and Science & Poughkeepsie, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Danish Paintings of the Nineteenth Century from the Collection of Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr., 2005, no. 23, illustrated in color in the catalogue & on the cover 

London, Royal Academy of Arts & Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence, 2008, nos. 24 & 53, illustrated in color in the catalogue

New York, Scandinavia House, Danish Paintings from the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough, Selections from the Collection of Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr., 2013-14, no. 15, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Copenhagen, Ordrupgaard, At Home with Hammershøi, 2016, no. 34, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Hammershøi, le maître de la peinture danoise, 2019, no. 35, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Literature

Alfred Bramsen & Sophus Michaëlis, Vilhelm Hammershøi. Kunstneren og hans værk, Copenhagen, 1918, no. 198, p. 97 (titled Stue)

Poul Vad, Hammershøi, Værk og liv, Copenhagen, 1988, illustrated p. 186

Poul Vad, Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish Art at the Turn of the Century, New Haven & London, 1992, no. 119, illustrated p. 186

Susanne Meyer-Abich, Vilhelm Hammershøi: Das malerische Werk, PhD dissertation, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, 1995, no. 178, illustrated n.p.

John L. Loeb, Jr., et al., The Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr. Danish Art Collection, New York, 2005, no. 39, p. 126, illustrated in color p. 128

Patricia G. Berman, In Another Light, Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century, New York, 2007, p. 233, illustrated in color p. 230 

John L. Loeb, Jr., et al., The Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr. Danish Art Collection, New York, 2017, no. 39, p. 140, illustrated in color p. 141 & on the cover

John L. Loeb, Jr., Reflections, Memories and Confessions, New York, 2017, illustrated in color p. 200

Annette Rosenvold Hvidt & Gertrud Oelsner, Vilhelm Hammershøi: på sporet af det åbne billede, Copenhagen, 2018, illustrated in color p. 275

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1899, during Vilhelm Hammershøi’s most refined and accomplished period, Interiør, Strandgade 30 is an introspective meditation distinguished by a subdued and refined palette and an architectural and geometric complexity typical of the artist’s most emblematic subjects.

In 1898, Hammershøi and his wife Ida took up residence at Strandgade 30, a circa 1640 building in the historic Christianshavn section of Copenhagen, where they would remain for a decade. A contemporary critic wrote of their home in 1907, “Hammershøi, of all the Danish painters the most still and silent, the master of few and muted colors, is living over in the oldest Christianshavn in an ancient two-story dilapidated court, whose half-timbered warehouses sway in and out where the side’s subsiding walls must be braced with heavy timbers. He paints in a large gray room so deep that its inner recesses, the winter sunshine notwithstanding, remain in subdued twilight. And the only sound is a robin’s fluttering about on the old mahogany furniture” (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, p. 400). 

This distinct interior played a critical role in the development of Hammershøi’s singular aesthetic. Capitalizing on the spacious architecture and abundance of windows in his new home, the artist had the walls painted a cool gray to better absorb and reflect the seasonal Nordic light; the doors and woodwork were trimmed in a stark white, creating a permanent frame for any action within the rooms. The apartment’s sparse design and minimal yet carefully chosen furniture and decorations provided endless configurations and arrangements that the artist adapted to the conventions of classical still-life painting. Whether populated with household items or emptied of all furniture to concentrate on the geometry of the space, such as in White Doors, Strandgade 30 (see fig. 1), the rooms of Strandgade 30 would become a central motif of his work.

Hammershøi’s interiors, the present work included, articulate the artist’s almost spiritual interest in isolation. The fulcrum of Interiør, Strandgade 30 is Ida, the artist’s main model throughout his life. She appears in many of Hammershøi’s compositions, arranged and rearranged as if another still life prop like the teacup she reaches for or the pewter platter she holds. The cool, refined palette of chromatic grays is broken by the warmth of the mahogany table and chair, subtly tinged with violet and blue, and Ida’s black blouse, which is almost abstracted in its depth of color. The deliberate treatment of her blouse is circumscribed and graphic, and serves to isolate and also highlight her contemplative movements.

The spare compositional elements of Interiør, Strandgade 30, in particular the half-turned doorknob that forms part of a continuous line from the spout of the Royal Copenhagen jug at left to the bridge of Ida’s nose, highlight the geometric strength of this painting. In a rare interview from 1907, Hammershøi explained his deliberate compositional structures: "What makes me choose a motif are... the lines, what I like to call the architectonic attitude in the picture. And then the light, naturally. Naturally it also has a great deal to say, but what means practically the most for me is the lines" (ibid., p. 400).

The almost photographic quality of Interiør, Strandgade 30 owes a debt to the masters of the Dutch Golden Age, especially Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer. Like Vermeer before him, whose probable use of a camera obscura resulted in his distinctive soft focus, Hammershøi employed photography to expand his sense of pictorial space, light and time. As Poul Vad wrote, “photography is one of the phenomena that defines modernity. Undoubtedly the photographic aspect of Hammershøi's paintings holds some of the explanation of why this artist, who was so very bound by tradition, painted paintings that nevertheless belong under the mantle of modernity and still have a modern feel to this day” (Hammershøi and Europe (exhibition catalogue), Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen & Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, 2012, p. 201).

Hammershøi was in constant dialogue with the output of his contemporaries as well, and drew inspiration from their works. By 1886, the painter and critic Karl Madden had mentioned Hammershøi in the same breath as two prominent and well-known painters—Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and James McNeill Whistler (Politiken, 4 June 1886). In particular, Hammershøi was deeply influenced by the American artist with whom he first exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. Whistler’s limited tonal range and tempered narrative, such as in Arrangement on Grey and Black No. 1: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother (see fig. 2) deeply inspired Hammershøi, who painted his own mother in 1886 as an homage to Whistler’s mother, though with an even more abstracted and tonal composition (see fig. 3). Both artists distilled the painting of women in empty rooms to its very essence; as Kasper Monrad has written, Hammershøi “purged pictures of the anecdotal” (ibid., p. 18).

The sense of seclusion and introspection in Hammershøi's paintings is central to turn-of-the-century Symbolism, of which Hammershøi is now regarded as a leading exponent. In 1907, George Brandes commented: “The strangest development of all in recent years in Denmark has been the art of Hammershoj [sic]. Who would have ever thought of putting forward an empty room as the subject for a picture? Yet the sensitive gradations of light and their value in empty places, have aroused in him a curious kind of perception, which may in the future be repeated and practiced by others, but its originator is Hammershoj... to produce what he does with so limited a palette, to be content with that limit... suggest the possession of an uncommon power of restraint” (P. Berman, op. cit., p. 250).

Hammershøi has been the focus of numerous recent retrospective exhibitions, prompting a renewed interest in his international legacy. In America, Edward Hopper’s lonely interiors, such as Room in Brooklyn (see fig. 4), build on the motifs of his Danish predecessor while adding a more direct narrative, here the despair of the Great Depression. In the fall of 2019, The Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center is hosting Hopper/Hammershøi: Paintings by Michael Banning, exploring the similarities between the two artists. The psychological complexity of Hammershøi’s emptied interiors continues to inspire contemporary artists, such as Gerhard Richter. Works like his spare and balanced composition Lesende (Reader) (1994, Collection SFMOMA) or Betty (1988, Beyeler Foundation) distills Hammershøi’s treatment of intimacy and alienation into almost cinematic works.

The first owner of this work, Konrad Levysohn, was the solicitor for Paul Gauguin’s widow Mette; it remained in his collection, alongside works by Gauguin, until at least 1918. When purchased in 1984, Interiør, Strandgade 30 was among the first works by Hammershøi to join the collection of Ambassador John L. Loeb, whose illustrious collection of Nordic art, so generously exhibited over the past thirty years, has introduced a new generation to the works of Vilhelm Hammershøi.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York