Vilhelm Hammershøi and the view from our front window
The painting is called ‘The Uncanny‘ and dates from 1905 when Hammershøi was visiting London (he lived on the first floor of what is, now, our office at 67 Great Russell Street).
Of 67 Great Russell Street, Vilhelm Hammershøi said: ‘Today I have found a place I like and where I believe I can get something done.’
The original painting is now held by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. In their exhibition, Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence, 28th June – 7th September 2008, The Royal Academy exhibited the painting. The RA Exhibition Guide discussion of the ‘The Uncanny’ is reproduced here:
“In this painting we see the view down the side of the British Museum, along Montague Street. The perspective is only slightly raised, as though the artist were standing with his easel in the road. The road, however, is deserted; there is no trace of humanity. Our gaze is also barred in several ways. Our eye follows the high railings, a psychological barrier, from the left to the centre, where we expect some kind of focal point. The centre is, in fact, even vaguer than the edges, and the blank facades of the houses on the right do not give us a better understanding of the scene. By focusing our attention on the bare street running alongside the British Museum, Hammershøi is upsetting our preconceptions of what a proper subject of a painting should be.”