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Interior with a woman at the piano. Stranddheed, 30

Painting, 1901, 55.9×44.8 cm

Description of the artwork «Interior with a woman at the piano. Stranddheed, 30»

Scene “Interior with a woman at the piano. Strandged, 30 ", written in 1901, is an elegant and introspective meditation relating to the peak period of the career of Wilhelm Hammershøy. This work, like its other most mysterious paintings, is distinguished by an exquisite palette of chromatic shades of gray, a concise composition, and hypnotic psychological complexity. Although the painter is often seen as a separate figure in Danish and European art, his canvases maintain an expressive dialogue with the works of his contemporaries - James McNeill Whistler, Edvard Munch and Fernand Knopf.

In a discreet and balanced composition one can see Whistler's early influence, whose work Hammershoi knew well and with whom he tried unsuccessfully to meet. The palette is dominated by shades of gray, white, brown and black, creating a mysterious atmosphere characteristic of the paintings of the Dane.

The name suggests that the work was conceived as a portrait, but there are no hints about the character, inclinations, social status of the model or other narrative elements inherent in the genre scenes of that period. This picture became the quintessence of the artist's career - the image of a lonely figure, isolated in his own world. It can be argued that Hammershöh withdrew from naturalism and plunged into the stream of symbolism that poured into Danish art. However, experts in the work of the painter are inclined to believe that his canvases do not carry spiritual or transcendental values - he just wanted to depict beauty in everyday life, and not make any complex statements.

Artists his wife moved to his apartment on Strandged Street in Copenhagen in 1898. The walls in the rooms were painted in a cool gray tone, perfectly absorbing and reflecting the special northern light that Hammershoy tried to convey. White wooden window frames, doors and panels perfectly suited for framing compositions. It was there that paintings appeared that are considered the most important interior scenes in the works of the painter, including the real work.

The compositional advantages of this work are based on the confident use of horizontal and vertical lines. The piano cover and wall panel divide the work in half; cool gray shades smoothly turn into the soft white color of the tablecloth on the table, which invades the viewer's space. The right angles of the picture frames are balanced by the ellipses of the plates, and the non-standard shapes of the oil lamp and the legs of the piano are aligned with the hard lines of the wooden planks extending beyond the canvas. Hammershoi skillfully and easily conveys the texture of a linen tablecloth, the cold hardness of dishes, the softness of a piece of butter.

In addition to these written details, the picture is distinguished by the light and tonality of an almost photographic character. how Jan Vermeermay have used a camera obscura in his work, Hammershoy used photography to create a sense of light and space, frozen in both the present and the timeless. As the Danish art historian Pole Wade wrote, “Photography is one of the phenomena that determine modernity. Undoubtedly, the photographic aspect of Hammershöy’s paintings explains why the artist, so attached to tradition, painted pictures that, nevertheless, belong to modernity and are felt to be modern to this day. ”.

Since its inception, the painting “Interior with a woman at the piano. Strandged, 30 ”was kept in a private collection for almost 90 years, and from 1989 to 2017 it was put up for public auction three times. The last time it was sold on November 14, 2017 at Sotheby's auction for 6 million 211 thousand dollars with estimeyte 2.5 - 3.5 million. At the moment, this is the most expensive piece of Wilhelm Hammershöy.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene, Interior

Style of art: Symbolism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1901

Size: 55.9×44.8 cm

Artwork in selections: 24 selections