Interior from Strandgade with Sunlight on the Floor1901 by Vilhelm Hammershøi

Hammershøi captures the ephemeral sunlight and turns it into a graphic pattern — when seen in isolation almost an abstraction.

The fine play of grey tones and silvery light in the paned windows is a hallmark of Hammershøi’s interieurs.

The seated figure makes for another graphic element in the composition, positioned to balance the lines in the finely polished, dark wooden furniture. Everything on the image plane is delicately atuned to create a sense of suspended equilibrium.

Hammershøi was always a lone wolf. In 1885, his art teacher said, “I have a pupil who paints most oddly. I do not understand him, but believe he is going to be important and do not try to influence him.” He limited his subject matter to interiors, portraits of his family and close friends, townscapes and landscapes. By stripping the scenes of any unnecessary details he abolished any sense of narrative from his work. In Interior in Strangade, sunlight on the floor (1901), the woman’s back is to the viewers. As Monrad explains: “We are not really sure what is going on. We don’t know what she’s doing. Is she absorbed in thought? Meditating? Writing a letter? Or is she feeling lonely or isolated? Or is she full of harmony? We don’t really know.”

That enigmatic quality permeates Hammershøi’s works....
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Tags: interior
Media: oil on canvas