Important Vilhelm Hammershoi painting to auction

An important painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi will star in the auction of the late designer Jens Risom’s estate at Sotheby’s.

White Doors (1899) is one of the earliest pieces in the artist’s celebrated series of interiors and is valued at £400,000-600,000 ($498,360-747,540).

Hammershoi White Doors

Hammershoi is among Denmark's best known artists

Hammershoi moved into Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1898.

His rooms there would inspire his most acclaimed works, a series of enigmatic canvases lit by natural light. Ghostlike figures are occasionally shown with their heads turned away from the viewer.

This example was sold to Hammershoi’s friend, the critic and playwright Axel Otto Henriques (Risom’s grandfather), and has passed down through successive generations of his family ever since.  

This represents its first appearance at auction. The sale takes place in London on June 6. 

Claude Piening, head of 19th century European paintings at Sotheby’s, said: “White Doors is a jewellike interior, and quintessential Hammershoi in every respect.

“It is tremendously exciting to be handling this work which has been handed down through three generations of the same family, never been on the market since it was painted, and not seen by the public for over thirty years.”

Hammershoi’s record at auction is £2m ($2.4m), set for Interior, Strandgade 30 in 2015.

That’s relatively low for an artist of his stature and influence.

However, it more than doubled its £900,000 ($1.1m) estimate, suggesting rising demand for his work.

The present lot looks likely to achieve a similar result. 

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