Vilhelm Hammershøi. 1891. The Royal Library

Vilhelm Hammershøi - Biography

Vilhelm Hammershøi was born on 15 May 1864 in Copenhagen to Frederikke (b. Rentzmann) and Christian Hammershøi, a merchant.

He had a younger sister, Anna, and two brothers: Otto and Svend. Svend also became an artist.

Vilhelm received drawing classes from the age of eight. He enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1879 and also studied under P.S. Krøyer.

Vilhelm had his debut as an artist in 1885, presenting a portrait of his sister. That year he also made his first journey, travelling to Berlin and Dresden.

In June of 1890 he became engaged to Ida Ilsted; they were married in September 1891. Ida became the main figure within Hammershøi’s life and art and posed for a great many of his paintings.

The couple’s homes were also featured in Vilhelm’s art. In an interview from 1907 he said: "I have always felt that such rooms possess great beauty even if there are no people in it; or perhaps precisely when there are none."

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Two Figures. The Artist and His Wife, 1898. ARoS, Aarhus

Vilhelm Hammershøi in the livingroom, Bredgade 25. Ca. 1912. The Royal Library

Throughout his life Vilhelm travelled in Europe with Ida and exhibited his work in several major cities.

He won international acclaim and was supported by his patron, Alfred Bramsen, who bought many of his works and promoted his art.

On 13 February 1916 Vilhelm died from cancer at the age of 51.

Updated: 26.apr.2018
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