Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Salon: The Enigmatic Work of Vilhelm Hammershoi

A Woman In An Interior

Bedroom 1890

Drawing Room: The Four Copper Prings

Portrait of the Painter's Sister, Anna 1885

In the Bedroom 1896

Interior with Young Man Reading 1898

Interior Court 1905

Sunbeams 1900

Interior Strandgade 1905

Interior with Young Woman From Behind 1904

The Music Room

Interior 1899

Peasant Reading 1888

Danish painter Vilhelm Hemmershoi (1864 - 1916) was born in Copenhagen to a well-to-do merchant family. He studied drawing and painting from the age of eight forward, obviously having shown his talent early.

Admired and successful in his lifetime, he was a painter whose poetic works painted in muted tones, belie their understated nature. There are mysteries to be solved in Hammershoi's paintings, stories to be defined - not that I'm the first to come up with that assessment.

In 2005 a BBC television documentary, Michael Palin and the Mystery of Hammershoi,  explored the enigmatic work of the painter.

More reading about the artist here at The Guardian

To read an interview with Palin re: his 'obsession' with Hammershoi, please use this link.

Vilhelm Hamershoi - Self-Portrait


  1. They really are lovely. I wish a brilliant author would have taken his subjects and woven a great novel about them. I enjoyed these. Pam

  2. This is good art. I sometimes like the sparser looks, and I always love paintings of people reading.

  3. Dear Yvette,
    This is an interesting post. I have read about this artist before (but for the life of me can't remember where at the moment). Despite their somewhat everyday appearance, these calm, reflective paintings nevertheless have a lot of detail within them to ponder.
    Bye for now

  4. I'm back again for more lovely artistic treats. These really remind me of Vermeer and Whistler, but have their own individual beauty too. I particularly like the one with the woman looking through the doors.

  5. I love these paintings. I don't think I've heard of the painter or seen the paintings. I love the mystery of them. What is going on? We have the pleasure of deciding.

    Travellin' Penguin has a great idea. It could be a magnificent book illustrated with the paintings.

  6. Pam, exactly. Anyone of these could be a jumping off point for a story. I might do it myself....Hmmm. Maybe a Writing Challenge????

  7. Extremely good, Kathy. I have a book for you, m'dear: CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters. I'm rereading it now for the umpteenth time and I keep thinking you'd love the humor in it. For sure. Check it out.

  8. Hi Kirk, yes, I agree. There's much more here than at first meets the eye. Lots to think about and really, interact with.

  9. Hi nice day, nice to have you back again. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I try to do an art post once a week or so - I hope you'll return for those as well.

    I like to vary the work and style of the artists I feature, so there's always something to catch the imagination. I hope. :)

  10. Joan, Hammershoi disappeared from the radar for awhile, but recently his work has been growing in popularity.

    You know what might be interesting, a book with a mystery in which the paintings (featured prominently) hold the clues.

  11. Dear Yvette,

    I try to restrain myself from making comparisons when I look at the work of artists, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I look at the eighth example of Hammershoi's work, "Sunbeams," and am struck by how it has the look and mood of an Andrew Wyeth scene.

  12. I fell in love with the first two works almost from the moment I saw them. They are gorgeous in their simplicity.

  13. But of course, Mark, Hammershoi came first. It's all related, I think. Artists see the same thing you and I see and are influenced - how could they not be?

    No artist works in a vacuum, that's for sure.

  14. I agree, Ryan. Though the simple aspect can be deceiving.

  15. Yes, a mystery with paintings which hold clues is a great idea. Why not write it?

    I also thought of Andrew Wyeth, the sparse, clear, strong lines, no clutter, nothing extra. Although I love artists like Matisse, with lots of things going on, sometimes a leaner look is good, too.

    Thanks for the book idea. I'm going to look it up right now.

    Your mention of humor reminds me that I need a Wolfe/Goodwin dose.

  16. Wonderful, wonderful - and could hardly be more Scandinavian-seeming really, could it? Thanks Yvette.

  17. Such interesting paintings! I, too, thought they had a modern style Vermeer quality to them.

  18. Kathy, I've always felt that most artists depict what's going on inside them, one way or another. Well, duh, Yvette. But you know what I mean.

    Let me know if you find that book and more importantly, if you read it and like it. I think it definitely has your sense of humor even if it is a 'historical' mystery.

  19. The colors seem very Scandinavian, Sergio. The mood too. Yes. It's all that winter thing going on all the time. :)

  20. Yes, you might be right, Pat. Both are rather enigmatic in their approach.


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