Paul Binding

Still-Life

Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence

By

Hammershøi

By

Royal Academy 176pp hbk £35/pbk £19.95 order from our bookshop

In Hammershøi’s very last painting, Interior, Strandgade 25, his wife Ida sits sewing at a table with coffeepot and cup to hand. The only other chair at the table is empty, standing at an angle suggesting it has been recently vacated. Beyond, white doors open one after another, with a sofa against a wall at the end. Hindsight gives the picture a valedictory quality: the artist died of throat cancer, at the age of fifty-one, only months later. The expression on Ida’s face combines intentness on her task with sad reflectiveness; viewing it juxtaposed with the sequence of doors behind her, we can’t but feel Hammershøi is confronting here the prospect of the long years awaiting her after his death. The colours constitute a symphony of greys, in which whatever is white casts a grey shadow. 


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