Interior, c. 1903
Signed with monogram
Watercolour and ink on paper
8 1/2 x 9 7/8 in, 21.5 x 25 cm
Alongside Carl Holsøe and his brother-in-law Vilhelm Hammershoi, Peter Ilsted is regarded as one of the leading Danish artists of the early 20th century that together formed a school of...
Alongside Carl Holsøe and his brother-in-law Vilhelm Hammershoi, Peter Ilsted is regarded as one of the leading Danish artists of the early 20th century that together formed a school of interior painting. These three pivotal Scandinavian artists were celebrated for their enchanting domestic scenes of sparsely furnished rooms, inspired by Dutch 17th century painters such as Johannes Vermeer. Hammershoi and Ilsted were close friends before the former married Ida Ilsted in 1891 and some of Ilsted’s simple interiors were even made in Hammershoi’s house at 30, Strandgade.
Holsøe, Hammershoi and Ilsted were fascinated by man’s internal thought and turned away from distinct narrative in favour of expressive and highly atmospheric scenes that were filled with tranquil mystery. Much like Hammershoi, Ilsted was able to imbue his domestic spaces with a unique spiritual dimension through the use of light to convey a certain mood. This inward subjectivity was emboldened by the contemporary influence of Symbolism in European art.
Ilsted became known for his technical mastery of mezzotint printing, evoked in this intimate study for a larger painting by the artist’s adept draughtsmanship and representation of light. The cool flush of Nordic light in ‘Interior’ is emphasised through the sharp contrast between the sunbeams and shadow that surround the sleeping female figure. The highly charged atmosphere in ‘Interior’ also suggests the sanctity of the domestic sphere as a particular haven for women during the 19th century.
Though Hammershoi, Holsøe and Ilsted were refused for the annual exhibitions held at the Charlottenborg Palace (the equivalent of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition), they experienced great success as part of The Free Exhibition. This alternative movement was chosen by the state to officially represent Denmark in Paris, Munich and Rome, where all three artists won medals. Ilsted also received an Honourable Mention at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1899 and a bronze medal at the 1900 exhibition.
Private collection, UK