Hammershoi Portrait of Ida Ilsted

Vilhelm Hammershøi Portrait of Ida Ilsted, later the Artist’s Wife 1890 Oil on canvas 106.5 x 86 cm National Gallery of Denmark © SMK

Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi

April 16 – June 26, 2016


One of the greatest Danish artists of all time, Vilhelm Hammershøi is internationally renowned for his spare, sunlight-infused interiors. Rich in atmosphere and light, it was for these that he earned the title “de stille stuers maler” (the painter of tranquil rooms). Born in Copenhagen in 1864 and trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Hammershøi’s enigmatic portraits, unpopulated cityscapes and grey-toned domestic scenes set him at odds with his contemporaries. Described by the National Gallery of Denmark’s Director Mikkel Bogh as a “painter of pauses, silences and in-between spaces,” Hammershøi’s reclusive personality and contemplative works made him a favourite amongst poets and writers.

A rare Hammershøi painting has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, marking the first time a work by the Danish master has entered a public collection in Canada. To celebrate, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) welcomes the critically acclaimed exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi from the SMK/ The National Gallery of Denmark.

Originally curated by the National Gallery of Denmark’s senior research curator, Kasper Monrad, and overseen in Toronto by Kenneth Brummel, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Modern Art, the exhibition is centred on the recent AGO acquisition, Hammershøi’s Interior with Four Etchings, from 1905. A portrait of the artist’s wife in their Copenhagen apartment, this painting has been largely unseen since its creation, and held in a private collection. The AGO was able to prevent the painting from being exported and purchased it in early 2015. Its the first work by a Scandinavian avant-garde artist to enter the AGO’s European collection, and its acquisition was made possible with the assistance of a Moveable Cultural Property grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2015.

Loath to paint strangers, Hammershøi’s portraits of friends and artists and especially of his wife, are among his most intimate works. Her head down or back turned, with a tea cup or needlework, his wife Ida reappears throughout the exhibition, assuming a variety of poses but remaining ever mysterious. Other highlights of the exhibition include Interior. An old Stove (1888); View of Christenborg Palace. Late Autumn (1890-92); and A Room in the Artists Home in Standgade, with the Artist’s Wife (1902).

Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark is organized by SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark and AFSMK – the American Friends of SMK. 

Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission to the Gallery, and AGO members and AFSMK patrons receive free admission. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at http://www.ago.ca/membership and about AFSMK at www.afsmk.org.





April 13, 2016
Hammershøi Curator’s Talk: Kasper Monrad


June 10 & 17, 2016
The Danish Girl

Lead supporters

Generously supported by

Additional support for the exhibition at the AGO has been made possible by the Oak Foundation, the Ahmanson Charitable Community Trust, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Møbeltransport Danmark, SAS Cargo, ArcusGruppen, Sotheby’s, Henning Larsen Architects, VisitDenmark, The Consulate General of Denmark in New York, and the AFSMK – American Friends of Statens Museum for Kunst.


Vilhelm Hammershøi: Painting Tranquility catalogue cover

This book features a selection of 24 paintings from the collection of The National Gallery of Denmark. Essay by Chief Curator at SMK, Kasper Monrad.
123 pages

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