Haute Vitrine

PHOTOGRAPHS by LESLIE HOSSACK

Danish Artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916)

1904, Hammershøi, Interior with Four Etchings, photo by Leslie HossackInterior with Four Etchings (1904)
Collection: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

1910, Sunshine in the Drawing Room photograph by Leslie HossackSunshine in the Drawing Room (1910)
Collection: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

In 2020, governments the world over declared: “Stay-at-home. Work-at-home.” More than a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) elevated this edict to a lifestyle and an art form.

In 2015, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (AGO) acquired Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi’s painting Interior with Four Etchings (1904). This was the first time one of his works entered a public collection in Canada. Then, in 2017, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (NGC) acquired Sunshine in the Drawing Room (1910).

Leslie Hossack photographed these two paintings by Hammershøi in 2019 as they hung in situ, in Ottawa and Toronto. Hossack wrote: “I stood before these paintings transfixed. I was besotted. I was smitten.” And so began her quest to photograph his works abroad. The result, “100 Hammershøis by Hossack,” are featured here on Haute Vitrine.

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of portraits, nudes, landscapes, architecture and interiors, but it is his interiors, like the two shown above, that were most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: National Gallery of Canada

1901, Interior with Piano and Woman in Black by Leslie HossackInterior with Piano, Woman in Black. From the Artist’s Home at Strandgade 30 (1901)
Collection: Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

1907, Interior with Cabinet Sofa. Interior by Leslie HossackInterior with Cabinet Sofa (1907)
Collection: Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

1910, Interior with Seated Woman by Leslie HossackInterior with Seated Woman (c. 1910)
Collection: Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

1913, The Tall Windows. Interior from the Artist's Home by Leslie HossackThe Tall Windows. Interior from the Artist’s Home, Strandgade 25 (1913)
Collection: Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

1914, The Four Rooms by Leslie HossackThe Four Rooms. Interior from the Artist’s Home, Strandgade 25 (1914)
Collection: Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2018 Leslie Hossack

In 2018, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (NGC) hosted an exhibition entitled Impressionist Treasures, featuring works from the Ordrupgaard Museum, Copenhagen. Among the 76 paintings were several from the Danish Golden Age, including five interiors by Vilhelm Hammershøi.

Leslie Hossack photographed these Hammershøi works as they hung in situ, in the NGC. Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi and his wife Ida lived in an apartment at Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen from 1898 to 1909. Then from 1909 to 1913, they lived at Bredgade 25. Finally the couple moved to Strandgade 25, where they remained until Vilhelm’s death in 1916. The first two images above reveal the interior of Strandgade 30 while the last two show the inside of the artist’s apartment at Strandgade 25.

Hossack wrote: “One enters Hammershøi’s private home, moves around his physical space and then slowly encounters one’s own soul… His genius is to seem to deal with the domestic while all the while dealing with the universal.”

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of portraits, nudes, landscapes, architecture and interiors, but it is his interiors, like the five shown above, that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: David Collection, Part 1

1903, Room with a View of the External Gallery. Strandgade 30 by Leslie HossackRoom with a View of the External Gallery. Strandgade 30 (1903)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1905, Open Doors. Strandgade 30 by Leslie HossackOpen Doors. Strandgade 30 (1905)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1906, Sitting Room. Study in Sunlight. Strandgade 30 by leslie HossackSitting Room. Study in Sunlight. Strandgade 30 (1906)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

After months of researching Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi, Leslie Hossack travelled to Copenhagen to view his paintings as they were meant to be seen – framed and hanging on a wall.

Hossack photographed works by Hammershøi in three galleries in Copenhagen, as well as Paris, Ottawa and Toronto. It is important to note that the 100 images she created are not colour corrected; rather, they reflect the actual viewing conditions encountered in each gallery. For example, the Hammershøi paintings in the David Collection are in a room with coral coloured walls. Thus the photographs above have a red cast to them.

Hammershøi’s works, particularly his interiors, are known for their lack of colour. But in reality, his muted grays reward the gallery-goer with a tantalizing range of luminous colours, as can be seen in the images above.

“The artist developed into a value painter, in whose work each gray tone contains an undercoat of red, brown, green and blue, for example, but whose overall expression is gray.”

Henrik Wivel, Hammershøi in the David Collection (2017)

Above we see the interior of the apartment at Strandgade 30 where Vilhelm and his wife Ida lived from 1898 to 1909. Characteristically, the sparse rooms are staged and devoid of people.

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of portraits, nudes, landscapes, architecture and interiors, but it is his interiors, like the three shown above, that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: David Collection, Part 2

1892, Kongevejen at Gentofte by Leslie HossackKongevejen at Gentofte (1892)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1900, From a Farm. Refnoes by Leslie HossackFrom a Farm. Refnœs (1900)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1904, Young Beech Forest, Frederiksvoerk by Leslie HossackYoung Beech Forest, Frederiksvoerk (1904)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1905, Three Ships, Christianshavn Canal by Leslie HossackThree Ships, Christianshavn Canal (1905)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1906, The Rowan Avenue at Snekkersten by Leslie HossackThe Rowan Avenue at Snekkersten (1906)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

Vilhelm Hammershøi usually painted indoors, but during the summer months he did paint landscapes outdoors, in various locations around Denmark. The landscapes in his oeuvre are fewer, and certainly less well known, than his celebrated interiors.

Naturally, the outdoor summer light had a different quality than the winter light that streamed through the windows of Hammershøi’s Copenhagen apartment. But upon contemplation, one can see a similarity between his interiors and landscapes.

“… essentially, their mood is identical to the mood in the artist’s other output. There is a feeling of alienation and desertion in Hammershøi’s landscapes. They are not devoid of the hallmarks of agrarian culture, such as farms, mills, and fields; they are devoid of biological activity and life.”

Henrik Wivel, Hammershøi in the David Collection (2017)

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of portraits, nudes, architecture, interiors and landscapes like the five shown above. But it was his interiors that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: David Collection, Part 3

1889, Woman Knitting. The Artist's Mother by Leslie HossackWoman Knitting. The Artist’s Mother (1889)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1889-1900, Woman Seated on a White Chair by Leslie HossackWoman Seated on a White Chair, on reverse of above canvas (1899-1900)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1891, Evening in the Drawing Room. Two Women at a Round Table by Leslie HossackEvening in the Drawing Room. Two Women at a Round Table (1891)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1896, Portrait The Artist's Sister Anna (drawn replica) by Leslie HossackPortrait of a Young Girl. The Artist’s Sister Anna, drawn replica (1896)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

1892, Double Portrait of the Artist and His Wife, Paris by Leslie HossackDouble Portrait of the Artist and His Wife. Paris (1892)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

Vilhelm Hammershøi is best known for his haunting interiors, but his portraits and self-portraits are equally tantalizing. Double Portrait of the Artist and His Wife. Paris (1892), shown immediately above, is an excellent example of both. Not even the best reproduction of this painting can fully prepare the viewer for the visceral experience of actually standing in front of this engaging yet aloof young couple. Their direct gaze is softly unfocused and their enigmatic expressions are benign and beguiling at the same time.  

“One feature is found in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s self-portrait as well as virtually all his other portraits: the figures eyes are not turned directly at the observer. They look inward… His portraits are mental images.”
                        Henrik Wivel, Hammershøi in the David Collection (2017)

Hammershøi painted portraits of family members and friends; he made it clear that he did not wish to paint the portraits of people whom he did not know. His main subjects were his wife Ida, his mother Frederikke, his sister Anna, his brother Svend and his friends and colleagues. The portrait below is of the wife of one of Hammershøi’s acquaintances. As with all images in this series by Leslie Hossack, it was photographed as it appeared on view in the gallery, colour cast, reflections on the glass and all.

1896, Portrait of Thora Bendix by Leslie HossackPortrait of Thora Bendix (1896)
Collection: Davids Samling, Copenhagen

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of interiors, landscapes, architecture, nudes and portraits like the six shown above. But it was his interiors that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: Hirschsprung Collection, Part 1

1885, Portrait of a Young Woman, the Artist's Sister Anna by Leslie HossackPortrait of a Young Woman, the Artist’s Sister Anna (1885)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1885, An Old Woman Standing by a Window by Leslie HossackAn Old Woman Standing by a Window (1885)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1886, An Old Woman Sitting by Leslie HossackAn Old Woman Sitting (1886)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1889, Maleren Kristian Zahrmann, The Painter Kristian Zahrmann by Leslie HossackMaleren Kristian Zahrmann, The Painter Kristian Zahrmann (1889)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1901, Daniel Jacobson Salter by Leslie HossackDaniel Jacobson Salter (1901)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

Leslie Hossack has photographed 100 works by Vilhelm Hammershøi in Copenhagen, Paris, Toronto and Ottawa. The five portraits seen above hang in the Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen.

Hammershøi is best known for his muted domestic interiors; he is the master painter of the poetry of the ordinary. Gallery-goers who are willing to slow down and spend as much time with his portraits as they do with his interiors will discover they are equally complex and rewarding.

Hammershøi is not one of those whom it is necessary to speak [of] quickly. His work is long and slow and at whatever moment one grasps it, it will always give ample opportunity to speak about what is important and essential in art.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to Alfred Bramsen, 10 November 1905

After studying Hammershøi over an extended period of time, Hossack wrote: “I saw my work when I looked at his work. His paintings and my photographs spoke the same visual language. In his interiors, I saw my images; in his portraits, I saw myself.”

Hammershøi painted portraits of family members and friends; he did not wish to paint portraits of people whom he did not know. His main subjects were his wife Ida, his mother Frederikke, his brother Svend and his sister Anna. Anna’s portrait is seen at the top of this post. In addition, Hammershøi painted his colleagues, including Kristian Zahrmann and Daniel Salter whose images appear above.

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of interiors, landscapes, architecture, nudes and portraits like the five shown above. But it was his interiors that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com

Hammershøi: Hirschsprung Collection, Part 2

1895-1896, Sondermarken ved vintertid by Leslie HossackSondermarken ved vintertid (1895-1896)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1885, Landscape Gundsomagle ved Roskilde by Leslie HossackLandscape Gundsomagle ved Roskilde (1885)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

1897, Interior in Louis XVI Style, Ny Bakkehus, Rahbeks Allé by Leslie HossackInterior in Louis XVI Style, from the artist’s home, Ny Bakkehus, Rahbeks Allé (1897)
Collection: Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Copenhagen

all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack

The first two works shown above are quite typical of Vilhelm Hammershøi’s landscapes with trees. There, as expected, we see mystery, movement and mood in his muted, meditative compositions.

And then the interior – and what an interior! The painting entitled Interior in Louis XVI Style, from the artist’s home, Ny Bakkehus, Rahbeks Allé (1897) is anything but muted.

After their extended honeymoon in Holland, Belgium and Paris, Vilhelm and his wife Ida moved into an apartment on Rahbeks Allé in the Frederiksberg district of Copenhagen in 1892. In this painting of their first home, we see signs of Hammershøi’s growing fascination with lines and light, as evidenced in this composition where he portrays staged rooms devoid of people. But the bubble gum pink of the walls is a shock to viewers familiar with his later interiors.

In 1907, ten years after painting Interior in Louis XVI Style (1897), Hammershøi gave one of his rare interviews. By then, he and Ida had been living at Strandgade 30 for almost ten years and his signature “gray” palette had become well established.

I believe absolutely that a picture makes the best effect in purely colouristic sense the fewer colours are in it. What prompts me to choose a motif is just as much the lines in it, what I would call the architectural stance in the picture. And then naturally also the light.

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interview with the magazine Hver 8. Dag, 1907

Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of interiors, landscapes, architecture, nudes and portraits. However, it was his interiors that were the most popular in his lifetime (1864-1916) and continue to draw the strongest response today. Hammershøi painted over 100 interiors in the various apartments he shared with his wife Ida in Copenhagen. Their home was both his studio and a major motif in his work.

Over a century ago, Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi elevated
“Stay At Home. Work At Home.” to an art form.

Leslie Hossack’s Hammershøi Photographs are part of a larger body of work that explores Hitler’s Berlin, Stalin’s Moscow, Mussolini’s Rome, Churchill’s London, contested sites in Jerusalem, the NATO Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII, the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, Scotland’s Freemasons and Sigmund Freud’s Vienna.

To view more photographs by Leslie Hossack, please visit lesliehossack.com