Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1886)
Interior with the Artist’s Mother (1889)
Collection: Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
Portrait of Ida Ilsted, The Artist’s Future Wife (1890)
Collection: Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Portrait of Ida (1892)
Three Young Women (1895)
Collection: Ribe Kunstmusem, Ribe
all photographs © 2019 Leslie Hossack
In 2019, at the exhibition entitled Hammershøi: The Master of Danish Painting at the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, gallery-goers met the significant women in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s life. Leslie Hossack’s photographs above introduce his mother Frederikke, his sister Anna and his wife Ida.
Hammershoi’s mother, Frederikke, was his lifelong champion. She encouraged his artistic interests from a very young age, and throughout her life she kept scrapbooks of press clippings about him. Two portraits of Hammershoi’s mother can be seen above.
“She played an important role in her son’s life; he painted two portraits of her when he was very young. Painted in 1886, the first portrait (private collection) was inspired by the composition of the famous portrait of the mother of James McNeill Whistler, which is held in the Musée d’Orsay, attesting to Hammershøi’s lifelong admiration of the American painter. Three years later, he depicted his mother knitting on a couch in three quarters.”
Press Kit, Hammershøi: The Master of Danish Painting, Musée Jacquemart-André and Culturespaces (2019)
However, it was Hammershøi’s his wife, Ida, who became his muse and model from the time of their engagement in 1890 until his death in 1916. We can follow her changing appearance in portraits painted over 26 years of marriage.
In the last image above, Ida sits at the centre of Three Young Women (1895), between her two sisters-in-law, Anna Hammershøi and Ingeborg Ilsted. As is typical of Vilhelm Hammershøi’s paintings, the subjects don’t interact with each other or the viewer. Here, the only connection among the three women is that their knees are touching.
After photographing 100 works by Hammershøi, Leslie Hossack wrote: “Initially, I was seduced by his interiors – soothing, calming, melancholic, poetic and, at the same time, deeply disturbing. Hammershøi’s interiors invite us into his own world and our own, literally and metaphorically. However, I came to realize that his portraits have the same power. Observing Ida, captured on canvas in her own physical surroundings and psychological space, viewers are compelled to enter unknown interior spaces of their own.”
Hammershøi’s oeuvre consists of portraits, landscapes, architecture, nudes and interiors. 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