an interior by Vilhelm Hammershøi

An interior in a house in Strandgade in Copenhagen with sunlight on the floor, painted by Vilhelm Hammershøi in 1901.

Painted in the apartment on Christianshavn, where the artist and his wife lived, the position of the door and the bright light shining through the window indicate that this room was on the south side of the building and looked into the courtyard. Although much of the mood of the painting depends on the sparseness of the furnishings - the catalogue of an exhibition of the artist’s work in London and Tokyo in 2008 described his paintings of interiors as “unsettlingly empty, silent and still” - photographs that survive of these rooms show that furniture, even if deliberately staged by the artist for his paintings, was furniture actually in the apartment and the rooms were certainly not cluttered. Can the paintings be seen as an example or, at least, as an interpretation of the taste and simple restraint to be found in the interiors of some middle-class houses in the city in the 19th century?


Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) was the son of a wealthy merchant. He studied first at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen and then with the artist Peder Severin Krøyer. His life-long friend and brother-in-law was the painter Peter Isted. This painting (KMS3696) is one of a series Hammershøi painted in the apartment in Strandgade and is now in the collection of the National Gallery in Copenhagen - Statens Museum for Kunst