HAMMERSHØI, Vilhelm
(b. 1864, København, d. 1916, København)

Biography

Danish painter, born in Copenhagen and mainly lived and worked in the old quarter of that city. His father was a wholesale merchant and the family enjoyed a good standard of living. His younger brother was the painter Svend Hammershøi (1873-1948).

Hammershøi began his training at 8 and by the time he was in his mid-teens he was already studying at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. Towards the end of his study he also learnt at the Free Study School which offered a more liberal approach. His teacher was Peter Severin Krøyer.

He married Ida Ilsted (1869-1949) in 1891 and she provided the inspiration for many of his future works and is often the lone figure seen in his paintings. They lived a relatively quiet life, apart from Ida's reported fiery temperament, and had no children. They traveled together throughout Europe, including Paris, Berlin and London.

Later in his life he lived in the old merchant house at Strandgade in Copenhagen and he painted the interior of this house more than sixty times. Hammershøi died of throat cancer in 1916 in Copenhagen at the age of 52.

Hammershøi painted portraits, landscapes and many room interiors which frequently contained a single figure that was seated or standing. Many of his paintings show empty rooms or often include the profile, or view from the back, of his wife in a long dark dress. These interior paintings always show rooms inside his own home and due to their popularity Hammershøi's other subjects have been slightly overshadowed. He has painted sublime landscapes and architectural pictures that emit a lonely, deserted and empty feeling. There are definite elements of modernism in his work from the use of a muted palette and his frequent use of exaggerated light to the creation of similar yet subtly different paintings. Yet it is the interiors that remain the most popular due to the way they emit a solitary atmosphere devoid of life but still providing a real emphasis on a feeling of space.



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