A painting by Vilhelm Hammershøi is headed to auction at a Sotheby’s modern art evening sale in New York this May with the highest-ever estimate given the artist’s work.
Interior. The Music Room, Strandgade 30 (1907) depicts the kind of serene scene typical of Hammershøi. A piano abuts a wall with white-trimmed wainscoting; a picture hangs above it. A violin rests on a wooden chair, and a cello leans against the piano. Natural light comes in through a window.
This interior was, in fact, Hammershøi’s own. The painting is part of a series of works that he made while he and his wife Ida lived in an apartment on Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen from 1898 until 1908.
According to a press release from Sotheby’s, the instruments featured in Interior. The Music Room, Strandgade 30 most likely belonged to the children of Hammershøi’s friend, patron, and biographer, Alfred Bramsen.
At Sotheby’s, the painting will have an estimate of $3 million–$5 million, the highest ever given a Hammershøi work at public auction.
The last time the painting changed hands was in 1944, when relatives of the current owners of the Strandgade 30 apartment bought the painting and promptly had it hung on the very wall that the work depicts.
Although this work’s estimate is high for a Hammershøi painting, his works have sometimes sold for more than $5 million.
The Getty acquired Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 (1912) in 2018 for $5.04 million in a Christie’s auction. Then, during the pandemic, a collector bought Interior with a Woman Standing (1913) for $5 million from an online-only edition of TEFAF Maastricht. Hammershøi’s record sale was set last year, when Stue (Interior with an Oval Mirror), 1916, sold for $6.3 million in a Christie’s auction, where it bore an estimate of just $1.5 million–$2.5 million.
The painting will travel from Denmark to be viewed in London for a few days in mid-April. Then it will arrive in New York for a pre-show viewing.
“It fills us with pride to be sending this Danish masterpiece forth into the world, and for Hammershøi’s inimitable and timeless way of seeing to be appreciated and enjoyed by a global audience,” said Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, of Sotheby’s Denmark, in a statement. “As we have seen in recent years, his aesthetic and popularity have truly transcended his local market, and he now occupies a key position in the canon of classic modern artists.”