In December 1898 Hammershøi moved into the old merchant house at Strandgade 30, Copenhagen, built in 1636. This painting portrays one of its rooms, and the model is his wife Ida, whom he married in 1891. The table was originally larger and filled most of the foreground, and the figure was added at the end. Pencil underdrawing is visible through the paint layer.

The artist painted the interior of this house more than sixty times, sometimes portraying empty rooms, sometimes including the figure of his wife in a long black dress. She is either viewed in profile or from the back, often reading a letter or a book. In all the interiors a sense of stillness prevails, and they show the influence of 17th-century Dutch painting, particularly that of Johannes Vermeer.

Key facts

Artist dates
1864 - 1916
Full title
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
64.5 x 58.1 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
On loan from Tate: Presented in memory of Leonard Borwick by his friends through the Art Fund 1926
Inventory number
Location in Gallery