Hammershøi under the hammer

Five of the Danish master’s paintings up for sale at Sotherby’s in June

April 6th, 2012 7:37 am| by admin

There must have been a point in history when brilliant artists, whose genius is unappreciated by contemporary audiences, started realising that death is the ultimate career move. Maybe that’s why Vincent van Gogh shot himself.

So there’s a good chance the much maligned Danish master Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) wouldn’t be surprised to learn that British auction house Sotheby’s has confirmed that five of his paintings will headline its Scandinavian Sale on 11 June, and that the combined estimate is enough to buy his beloved Strandgade 30 several times over.

The interest in Hammershøi’s work shows no sign of dissipating. A retrospective at the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo in 2008 made him a mega-star in the Far East, and other exhibitions, like the one currently running at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen that in June will move to the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich, demonstrate how popular he is in Europe.

“Public and private interest in the artist has grown considerably over the last 20 years, and particularly in Asia over the last five years,” Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, the head of Sotheby’s Denmark, told Artdaily.com.

Four of the five paintings are of the interior of Hammershøi’s home at Strandgade 30, three feature his wife Ida, and three are from private Danish collections. Together the combined estimate of the works is 12.0 million to 18.3 million kroner.

The Hammershøi record currently stands at £590,400 (today, 5.28 million kroner) for ‘Interior with Easel, Bredgade 25’, which was sold in June 2006, but according to Sother-by’s projections, ‘Ida Reading a Letter’ (£500,000-700,000) has a good chance of beating it.

However, it will need something approaching an auction-house miracle to beat the 15.6 million kroner record for a Danish painting, which was set in 2002 for a work by Asger Jorn that was sold by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
 For more details about the career and life of Vilhelm Hammershøi, see http://bit.ly/hammershoi.

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