Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916), Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor, 1901
Much of Hammershøi’s work shows interiors from his homes. Over the years he would use his changing homes as studio and subject matter.
He did not choose his flats at random. In an interview with the magazine Hjemmet (The Home) in 1909 Hammershøi said: "I personally prefer the Old; old buildings, old furniture, the unique and distinct atmosphere that such things possess."
The rooms as the main setting
His homes were chosen because they provided a sensuous space for his paintings. The rooms constitute the main setting, and in this setting the figures interact with their surroundings as if taking part in an intimate chamber play.
Accentuating phenomena over narrative
Hammershøi is part of an international movement in which traditional subjects, such as interiors, are used to investigate the painterly space. The artists accentuate phenomena such as light, air, and water over narrative, and their attention is focused on how they apply paint to the canvas.
Photography as a point of entry to painting
At that time many artists are interested in photography as a point of entry to painting. The photographs in Hammershøi’s collection include several images of Copenhagen streets and backyards that appear to be closely linked to his paintings.
The depiction of buildings and places
Hammershøi did not just paint interiors; he also ventured outdoors to depict a number of buildings and places in the city. These were always carefully selected, and frequently viewed through a characteristic misty haze.