Hammershøi painting sets price record

Painting sells for 15.5 million kroner at London auction that brings in 40 million kroner and sees three of artist’s works break previous record

A private art collector has paid over 15 million kroner for a painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi establishing a new record for Danish paintings sold at auctions. The painting, 'Ida læser et brev' (Ida Reads a Letter), was one of five Hammershøi paintings sold yesterday at  auction in London, three of them for a higher price than the most expensive Hammershøi painting to date.

Painted in 1899 the work was sold for the equivalent of 15,747,499 kroner and depicts Hammershøi’s wife, Ida, in the couple's home in Strandgade 30, in Christianshavn, Copenhagen. The amount is three times the previous record for a Hammershøi painting.

Interior with Two Candles (Photo: Sotheby's)

Ida in an Interior (Photo: Sotheby's)Bidders included private collectors from the US, Asia and Europe, as well as a number of museums. "There was a tremendous interest in his paintings. People were excited, it's fantastic,” Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, a spokesperson for Sotheby's in Denmark, told the press.

Two other Hammershøi paintings, 'Ida i et interiør' (Ida in an Interior) and 'Interiør med to lys' (Interior with Two Candles), also beat previous records at yesterday’s auction. According to Wedellsborg, it was the first time that a Sotheby's auction house had five works by Hammershøi. Together, the paintings were sold for just under 40 million kroner.

According to Wedellsborg, it is the light and mood of the images that make Hammershøi’s paintings so appealing. The artist lived from 1864 to 1916 and became especially known for his paintings of interiors and of his wife, Ida. He was educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, in 1884 and was a pupil of Skagen painter PS Krøyer.