In the spring of 2015 the museum showed a recently purchased painting by Vilhelm Hammershøi for the first time. In early 2014 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen seized the unique opportunity to acquire this work at TEFAF Maastricht, the leading art and antiques fair. In the associative exhibition ‘The Balcony Rooms’ ‘The Balcony Room at Spurveskjul’ (1911) by one of Denmark’s best-known artists will meet the Rotterdam museum’s collection.
In two rooms arranged around the Hammershøi, the museum made unusual connections between the acquisition and more than sixty works in the collection—from a seventeenth-century painting by Saenredam to a contemporary installation by Oscar Tuazon. The works in the first room related to the Hammershøi in their use of colour, technique or composition, as well as the artist’s choice of subject, or biographical parallels with the Danish painter. The second room focused on the imagination. What’s the story behind the red shoes (Untitled, Robert Gober, sculpture 1990)? And will the black telephone actually start to ring? (Telephone Heemaf H, Gerrit Kiljan, 1953).
In the oil sketch Hammershøi experiments with the effects of light, a recurrent motif in his oeuvre and one of the elements that has made him so renowned. ‘Santa Maria del Salute’ (2000) shows how David Claerbout likewise plays with light, albeit in a very different medium—Oscar Tuazon isolated a wall similar to that in the work by Hammershøi and fixed it in a spatial installation. The presentation also creates exciting comparisons with Old Masters like De Hooch, Metsu and Saenredam, who played with light and interior architecture.
The Balcony Room as Setting
The balcony room comes to life in a setting full of stories like a real salon, put together in its entirety from the collection. Paintings hang on the wall; tables, chairs and objects from the design collection transform the exhibition into a real living room. The presentation sparks the imagination: what happened in Hammershøi’s room?
The Balcony Room at Spurveskjul’ is - in all probability - a preliminary study in oil in preparation for a figurative work. The colours tend to the monochrome and it is painted in swift, light strokes, typical of a sketch. The light and how it enters interiors is a recurring motif in Hammershøi’s oeuvre. He has become famous for his combination of these three elements.
The purchase of this work in 2014 was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Vereniging Rembrandt (with the support of its Maljers-De Jongh Fund), the BankGiro Loterij and a gift from a private individual from Rotterdam.