An unrecorded painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi which has resurfaced in a German Private Collection will be presented for sale on the international market by Sotheby's
in an auction of 19th Century European Paintings on 20 November 2013. Estimated at £600,000-800,000, Interior with a Bust was purchased by the grandfather of the present owner from Berlin gallerist Eduard Schulte in the first decade of the 20th century. The discovery of this haunting interior, not included in Alfred Bramsen's 1918 catalogue raisonné of the artist's work, is an exciting addition to Hammershøis recorded oeuvre.
Commenting on its discovery, Claude Piening, Senior Director, Sothebys 19th Century European Paintings Department, said: The new popularity Hammershøi is enjoying, following the latest exhibitions of his work in Copenhagen and Munich in 2012 and the numerous record prices achieved in our sales, is bringing hitherto unseen paintings into the public domain. Interior with a Bust is a particularly exciting rediscovery, being neither recorded nor having appeared on the market since it was purchased at the beginning of the last century.
Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, Head of Sothebys Denmark, continued: Hammershøi's singular aesthetic has cast its spell on the 21st century, and from being a painter known mainly in Denmark he is now coveted by collectors around the world. In fact, he has become the most expensive Danish artist at auction, with bidders from the rest of Europe, America and Asia competing to secure his best works. This quintessentially Danish artist has found his place in the canon of internationally recognised painters.
While the setting is probably the dining room of Hammershøi's apartment at Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen, where he and his wife Ida were living when the painting was exhibited in Berlin in either 1905 or 1908, it has also been suggested that it could be a room at their previous address in Rahbæks Allé. The artist's aesthetic vision ultimately takes precedence over the setting, however. More important to him was to convey mood and atmosphere in a symphony of light and stillness. Any sense of time and place evaporates and here, the absence of physical human presence is made more acute by the marble bust, the focal point of the composition. The subject of the bust has not been identified, but the sculpture makes an appearance in another of Hammershøi's interiors at Strandgade.
The sale will also feature a further work by Hammershøi, which comes to the market from a Danish Private Collection. Painted in 1911, The Balcony Room at Spurveskjul shows the interior of Villa Spurveskjul (Sparrow Villa) in Frederiksdal, where Vilhelm and Ida spent the summer of that year. In this work, estimated at £120,000-180,000, he creates a hermetically sealed, light infused world of calm and stillness, the sense of silence and solitude expressed by the restricted palette of greys and whites. The opaque window panes inhibit any attempt to decipher the world outside, a device used by Hammershøi to focus the viewers attention on the interior.
Vilhelm and Ida were so taken with the villa, built in 1805-6, that they contemplated buying it, but in the end its state of disrepair prevented them from going through with the purchase. For a short period it served as a studio and most importantly the setting for Hammershøi's seminal self-portrait of 1911, whose backdrop is made up of the same view.