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Interior with Young Woman Seen from the Back

Interior with Young Woman Seen from the Back (Danish: Interiør
med ung kvinde set fra ryggen) is an oil-on-canvas painting from
c. 1903–04 by the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi. It is now held
in the Randers Museum of Art. It uses the muted grey-blue palette,
uncluttered composition and detailed attention to the play of light
typical of Hammershøi's work.[2]

The young woman featured is Hammershøi's wife, Ida, whom he
painted frequently with her back turned.[3] Michael Palin, an admirer
of Hammershøi's work, believes that Ida is often depicted facing
away since, in the portraits in which she is facing the viewer, her face
reveals "a troubled soul"; and that maybe Hammershøi painted her in
structured, minimalist interiors as a response to an emotionally
fraught domestic life. Palin admits that this is only conjecture, but is
fascinated by the feeling of secrecy produced by presenting subjects
with their back to the viewer.[3] Felix Krämer, writing when the
Kunsthalle Hamburg held the first German Hammershøi Interior with Young Woman Seen from the Back
retrospective in 2003, felt that the recurrent back-to-the-viewer (c. 1903–04), 60.5 x 50.5 cm[1]
theme provoked "a feeling of aloofness" in the viewer

Hans Edvard Nørregård-Nielsen notes how the subject who is leaning towards the right is offset by the platter she is holding on her
hip. The effect is achieved with strong brush-strokes which provide a balancing contrast with the blue and white tureen in the left half
of the picture. It serves to concentrate the viewer's attention on the pretty nape of her neck, highlighted between the demure black
dress and the simple tight braid of her hair.[5] It has also been noted that the portrait is a good example of light and shade. Ida's dark
hair contrasts with the fair skin on her neck with light coming in from the left, while her black clothing stands out against the pale
background, while the play of light and shadow on the folds of her dress adds depth to the otherwise flat character of the painting.

Scandinavian design
The furniture and decoration shown is in Hammershøi's own apartment on Strandgade in Copenhagen which was decorated in the
simple minimalist style now recognised as "Scandinavian design", but which, at the time, was in stark contrast to the 19th-century
penchant for elaborate, heavy and cluttered decoration.

1. http://www.randerskunstmuseum.dk/samlingen/highlights/
2. "Vilhelm Hammershøi – Gyldendal – Den Store Danske" (http://www.denstoredanske.dk/Kunst_og_kultur/Billedkuns
t/Danmark_1850-1910/Vilhelm_Hammersh%C3%B8i). denstoredanske.dk.
3. Martin Gayford (24 May 2008)."Vilhelm Hammershøi: When Michael Palin saw the light" (http://www.telegraph.co.u
k/culture/art/3673607/Vilhelm-Hammershoi-When-Michael-Palin-saw-the-light.html). Telegraph.co.uk.
4. "Vilhelm Hammershoi" (http://www.hamburger-kunsthalle.de/archiv/seiten/en_hammershoi1.html). hamburger-
5. Nørregård-Nielsen, Hans Edvard(2009). Dansk kunst: tusind års kunsthistorie(https://books.google.com/books?id=
DbpkdO-oSrYC&pg=PA387). Gyldendal A/S. p. 387.ISBN 978-87-02-08873-1.
6. Farver : billedkunst for gymnasiet og HF(https://books.google.com/books?id=p2L
VAcF7uCEC&pg=PA29). Gyldendal
Uddannelse. 1988. p. 29.ISBN 978-87-00-06032-6.
7. "En indadvendt dansker indtager London"(http://www.b.dk/kultur/en-indadvendt-dansker-indtager-london).
www.b.dk. 22 September 2009.

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This page was last edited on 16 March 2018, at 20:27.

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