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Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916)
Danish painter, Vilhelm Hammershoi is best known for his genre-painting consisting of quiet interiors, in muted colours/tones of blue and grey, containing isolated figures that have their back turned to the viewer. His rooms are sparsely furnished, suggesting a quiet melancholy or introspection. Although Hammershoi is considered to be an exponent of Symbolism, there is equal argument for suggesting that he was simply interested in portraying beauty in the ordinary, rather than making any complex statements. His art has a mystical, timeless quality about it, but it also enables the viewer to take a nostalgic journey into the past. Influenced by the composition and tonal variations of Dutch Realist genre painting from the likes of Jan Vermeer, and also by the American Post-Impressionist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Hammershoi's most familiar subject is his wife, painted in their tidy apartment. He also produced a number of landscapes, but these are considered of less importance. His reputation is undergoing something of a revival, and he is now considered to be one of the best genre painters from Scandinavia. See also: Best Impressionist Paintings.
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Note: For other examples of the 'interiors'
style of genre-painting, see: Interior (1896, Musee d'Orsay, Paris)
by the Copenhagen artist Peter Vilhelm Ilsted (1861-1933), and A Lady
in an Interior (1900-10, private collection) by the Danish painter
Carl Vilhelm Holsoe (1863-1935).
Legacy and Reputation
Although popular in his day, Hammershoi quickly became seen as old fashioned - his monotone palette, being replaced by the vibrant modernist movements like the Fauvists and Der Blaue Reiter. After his death, his work was largely forgotten, until a revival in the mid 1980s. In 2008 an important retrospective was held at the Royal Academy in London. Today, Giclee prints of the artist's paintings, particularly his interior scenes - many of which hang in the world's best art museums - are highly popular on poster art sites.
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