Vilhelm Hammershøi

1864 - 1916 · Denmark

Artist biography

A true master of capturing the melancholy essence of everyday life, Vilhelm Hammershøi is one of the most recognisable figures in 19th century Danish painting. His reputation has reached far outside Denmark and his work continues to appeal to contemporary audiences thanks to his ability to depict loneliness and alienation tinged with a sense of serenity and peacefulness. He gained fame for representing the ‘banality of everyday life’, yet his works retained a sense of mystery and distance which intrigued viewers who wished to unlock the stories and reasoning behind the environments he depicted.

Born in 1864 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Hammershøi showed an aptitude for creating art from a young age. At the age of eight he began to study drawing and painting with renowned draughtsman Niels Christian Kierkegaard, and later went on to study painting at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. From 1883 to 1885 he studied alongside talented contemporaries including P. S. Krøyer, and debuted at the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition in 1885 with ‘Portrait of a Young Girl’. Throughout his career Hammershøi worked predominantly in his home city of Copenhagen, and his interior works which he painted at his home on Strandgade 30 became some of his most renowned and recognised pieces.

Hammershøi is most recognised for his works depicting interiors, which are characterised by his use of muted grey tones and for having a particular focus on the qualities of light. His wife Ida featured regularly in his works, and was often shown facing away from the viewer which added to the sense of isolation, insularity and loneliness which Hammershøi became known for. His 1900 piece ‘Støvkornenes dans i solstrålerne’ (Dust Motes Dancing in Sunbeams) which depicts sun light shining through a window in an empty interior, is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Danish culture.

Hammershøi’s body of work continues to appeal to contemporary audiences, and comprehensive retrospectives of his work have been held in renowned international institutions including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Royal Academy of London and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The most recent major exhibition of his work was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada in 2016. In June 2012, Hammershøi's ‘Ida læser et brev’ (Ida Reading a Letter) was auctioned by Sotheby's in London for £1,721,250 ($2.4 million) which was a record price for any Danish work of art.

Vilhelm Hammershøi

  • Related Artists

Looking for available works of this artist? Let us help you!

None of our partner galleries has added works for sale of this artist. If you are interested in seeing available works we will get in touch with galleries that represent this artist and get back to you.