Paintings by Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) rarely come on to the market and are coveted by international museums. And yet the work of the Danish painter is hardly ever seen in the Netherlands. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen showed three of his paintings along with prints by Peter Ilsted (1861-1933).
A palette of subdued shades, work that radiates a sense of peace created by the handling of light: Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) was at the pinnacle of Danish painting around 1900. He was known for his paintings of tranquil, sparsely furnished rooms, sometimes with a single female figure. His fellow artist – and brother-in-law – Peter Ilsted (1861-1933) created interiors with women that were clearly indebted to Hammershøi. But while Hammershøi often built up his paintings in black, white and grey, Ilsted opted for colour in his prints.
In 2014 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was the first Dutch museum to acquire a work by Hammershøi. The Balcony Room at Spurveskjul (1911) is an unusual painting, inspired by a summer spent in a villa with his wife Ida. Hammershøi confines himself to an empty interior with no furniture of any kind – he even left out the door handles and hinges. What remains is a subtle study of light and space.
The Balcony Room was shown with two more of his paintings, temporary loans from the Ordrupgaard Museum in Denmark. The Tall Windows (1913) and The Four Rooms (1914) are examples of Hammershøi’s late work, when his already restrained touch had become looser and lighter.
The three paintings were shown together with a group of seven prints by Ilsted, acquired by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. They clearly showed the extent to which Ilsted followed in Hammershøi’s footsteps and at the same time found new paths. From 1910 onwards he concentrated on mezzotint, a seventeenth-century technique that was ideal for his subtle nuances. To maintain the Scandinavian mood, there is a display case with silver objects by the renowned Danish silversmith Georg Jensen (1866-1935), a contemporary of Hammershøi and Ilsted.