Art, Artists, Influencing Me, Photography

Influencing Me – Vilhelm Hammershøi

For today’s post, I went through a lot of different things before deciding what to show.  I haven’t had a chance to find any WordPress photographers, and do have a successful photographer to show you next week, but it left me kind of high and dry this week.  I thought I could show you some paintings from the Renaissance Period, but it was looking more like a history lesson, I felt the same about looking at the history of Photography.  Then I remembered an artist that I have loved for quite some time, Vilhelm Hammershøi.


I was first introduced to his work by our technician at the VCA.  He brought in a book for me to look at on the artist.  Hammershøi was a Danish artist, and lived between 1864 and 1916 in Copenhagen.  He is most famous for interior paintings, many, I believe, painted in his home.

hammershoi4There is a quietness to them, and they seem so still.  It was a revelation, I think, for me at the time, because I felt my own work was very still and quiet, I worried that people would think my work was very boring.  It gave me hope seeing Hammershøi’s work, that perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing.

Interior-Strandgade 30Then there is the lone figure that sits or stands in many of his images.  Her back is nearly always turned to you.  I don’t know why she is always facing away, I don’t know that it matters, but it does add something really interesting to the images.  The woman was his wife Ida, and I thought perhaps she didn’t want her face painted.

idaThen I found this image of her, so I don’t really know why.  It is a great idea and I like how you don’t see her face in many of the images, it does add to the mysterious of the images.

interiorI also think that we often spend too much time on the face, and with these images, you are forced to look elsewhere as well, that the interior is just as important as the model in them, perhaps more so.

Landscape in the SnowAs I was looking for his work on the internet it was wonderful for me to discover that he did do other sorts of images and there are many landscape paintings and other paintings of streets and buildings, of both where he lived and where he traveled.

One of the things that I love about his work is how he loved to paint what he saw in front of him, or around him, his home.  I have spoken about other artists who have done the same, the other person who comes to mind is Margaret Olley, though Hammershøi paints of an uncluttered world, and a simple muted world in comparison.  I always think I should do the same in my own home, but my home is not suited. I need to do some painting, I painted my walls some very bright colours a few years ago, and I need to change them.

It seems appropriate to be doing a post on Hammershøi right now as I prepare for a week where I will be mainly stuck indoors trying to avoid the heat.  I have some more images for you to see and will put them in a gallery, after it I will add some links so if you would like to learn more about him you can.

Michael Palin has a small video that you can look at it if you would like to see Hammershøi’s Copenhagen, Michael Palin and the Mystery of Hammershoi.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this Leanne – I love his pallet – it is something I have not mastered, getting the color the way I want it in my photos.

    • You are very welcome Christian, I don’t know why I haven’t done a post on him before. I love all that too.

  2. I love, love this. Thank you for posting this. He is one of my favorites as well. There is a novel in every painting, and the light is gorgeous. His work is so true.

  3. I’ve never heard of this artist but I love the work! The interiors are especially beautiful–some of them make me think of the work by American artist Andrew Wyeth. I think, when he uses a model with her face hidden, it also allows the model to become a sort of “everywoman” in her home and makes us think of the relationship of women, in general, and domestic spaces.

    • That is wonderful to hear Kerry, glad you like his work. I like what you have said about the model, there doesn’t seem to be much written on it. I think he loved Whistler, and was a huge fan, which also explains the portrait of his mother.

  4. I love painted interiors! I like his landscapes too. He almost has a feel of Edward Hopper, the isolated human in his own manmade landscape.

    Often painters would face a human subject away from the viewer so you would not focus on them but also study the rest of the painting. Also, if the space itself was the subject. People like to look at people.

    • Perhaps Hopper was influence by him, though I think Hopper’s work has more a sense of the dramatic, which I love too.
      I agree about the human subject, and it is very interesting. People do like to look at people. :)

  5. Thanks for introducing me to this artist…absolutely amazing paintings. The light, the atmosphere…everything. Truly fantastic!

  6. zenschoolforcreatives says

    Thank you for posting Leanne. Hammershoi’s work has influenced me greatly. Edvard Munch did a painting of a girl with her back to the viewer too. It, as does Hammershoi’s work evokes a sense of mystery and emotionalism and this is what I am trying to do. I had not heard of him before, so thank you again!

    • You are welcome, great to see how many people like his work. It is interesting the whole model with her back to the viewer.

  7. Hello, Leanne. These are beautiful very personal paintings. He uses a lot of shadow and light which gives mystery with the faceless woman. I am not an artist but I love the paints, brushes, canvases. I look forward to learning more.

  8. Wow! amazing art work here. I am not a huge art fan, but I like art not that I am talented myself in any way, but this work was not boring at all very interesting and not dark at all I would say it is intriguing. Reminds me of Van Gogh interior paintings with less vibrant colouring? Just my opinion :)

    • That is a great response, I don’t think you have to be an artist or knowledgeable about art to appreciate it. I like your opinion, thank you for sharing it.

  9. I like his work a lot but I’m not sure why. It’s like when you sit quietly thinking and watch your loved ones with affection who are just getting on with daily things -perhaps.

    • I will Darla, it is a great way of liking it. Yeah, not sure what is happening with WordPress, I have heard other people saying similar things.

  10. It’s quite odd but some of m yown favorite images are from photograhing my subjects from behind as opposed to the front. Some of my favorite worrk in other mediums is that way as well. In fact, my fortieth birthday present to myself (now a long time ago, sigh) was an overpainted serigraph by a British artist named Fairchild of a red-haired woman looking out a window – but from behind. There is a certain mystery that I find infinitely appealing and the possibilities for stories seem endless. Thank you for sharing this. Cackie

    • It is odd, but I also find it quite interesting, not sure if I would do it, but it could be an interesting thing to investigate. Thank you for you thoughts Cackie.

  11. Beautiful images-thanks for sharing some works of this artist. The light and shadow, captured in more quiet, reflective times is remarkable.

    • Really great to hear that others like his work. I agree with you have said, he does capture something quite special.

  12. It’s interesting how he used the manipulation of light in the paintings, as you would in a photograph. I also like the fact that some of the subjects are side on or looking away. X

    • I am glad to have introduced his work to you Julian, I love his work. It is even better when others like it as well.

  13. Leanne, thanks for sharing this painting. This is a good reference to quiet and serenade feelings

  14. Very interesting images, Leanne, and completely unknown to me, so thanks for introducing them. They really are quite surreal and speak of a quiet imminence. They are truly a photographers muse and perhaps only since our acceptance of HDR have we been able to capture dark interiors and window light satisfactorily.
    I’m always surprised that so few photographers look at paintings. These paintings remind me that simplicity though often preferable, is quite hard to achieve. Thanks for showing them.

    • I am happy to have introduced him to him. I think you are right about HDR photography and this is certainly one place where it would be completely appropriate. I think I look at paintings because that is what I was taught to do at art school, to look at what others are doing and learn from them, it isn’t always about technique, you can learn a lot about composition looking at these works. You are very welcome, I am so happy you liked them.

  15. Nice post – thanks for the introduction – has a Wyeth look to the work, although he preceded Wyeth by almost a century.

    • Apparently he was a Whistler fan, hence the image of his mother. You are very welcome Robert, it is nice to introduce someone new.

  16. He was a master of light. I want to look at his work again and again for he has given us something precious. Thank you for sharing.

  17. I’d never heard of him either but looking at his interior paintings and your style, I can see the influence!

  18. Great report. Reminds me of watching lectures at The Cleveland Museum of Art. Great report.

    • Oh, I hope it didn’t sound too much like a art history lesson, I didn’t want to do that, just talk about why I love the work.

  19. I learned so much from your excellent, informative post. I had never heard of this artist and like his style, subdued yet powerful. I’ve also checked out a couple other posts on your blog and am now a fan of yours, as well.

    • I’ve been a fan for almost 10 years, have always enjoyed looking at his work and seeing what I can learn from him, glad you like him too.

  20. I love his work too. It is a long time since I saw any of his work. But I love his textures and affects. It is funny how we can use filters to achieve the same look with our photos. I was thinking about this when watching the Antiques RoadShow. I saw an exquisite portrait done on french paper in charcoal and the amount of time spent on it. then I thought of some photos I had taken of 1920’s architecture here in Hastings which I had edited into a charcoal drawing. It was just a click. How times are changing.
    Keep cool. :D

    • Though in defense of the artists, you can do that one click, but to most of us, it will look like a one click, whereas a charcoal drawing will have variations, different strokes, the image may not be as perfect, so I hope we never replace charcoal drawings, or paintings, with one click on our computers. There is a craft in the former. His work is quite incredible, and I love how he sees things. Glad you like his work too.
      I am keeping cool so far, not sure how we will get through the rest of the week, but I know we will. :)

  21. Was unfamiliar with him, so thank you! I love that first one of the music room.

    • That is fantastic LB, so glad to have introduced you to him. I know the one, it is brilliant, well I think they all are. :)

  22. There is a photographic quality about the paintings which illustrates very well how allied the two forms of art actually are. They are not exclusive disciplines – results can be remarkably similar, but the medium and techniques are different, just as they are on a canvas when using chalk or watercolours or oils.

    • I totally agree Colonialist, and I think we can learn a lot by looking at them. Not so our photos start to look like paintings, but about artists used light, and how they composed their images.

      • Certainly that, but I would venture to suggest that there are occasions when the exact result a photographer wants will remind one of a painting, and conversely when a painter will aim for the precision that normally comes from a photo.

      • That is true, I’ve had people compare my images to paintings, though it wasn’t what I was necessarily going for. Though some people will just go to the filter menu and do it that also. I have seen those paintings, very very had to tell they are paintings, Photo Realism they call it, I believe.

  23. ‘Quiet’ paintings indeed Leanne … the muted tones and light works so well with his depictions of those absorbing activities like sewing reading and writing which would have been so much part of everyday life for these women he has chosen to paint . A slightly haunting melancholy quality about some of them I feel …

    • Great description Poppytump, one of the things I love about doing these posts is how other people can show you a different way of looking at the images, and I think you have certainly done that. Thank you.

  24. Painters who go the representative way, have to say more (in my opinion) than a good liking. With this one the silence and privacy in his paintings remind me on Andrew Wyeth. Thanks for sharing!

    • I am so jealous, his work will never come to Australia, I don’t think. I will have to travel to see it.

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