A Walking Tour of Copenhagen Inspired by Denmark’s Most Famous Artist
The city’s landmarks and interiors play a starring role in Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi’s early 20th century paintings.
American fans of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) will be thrilled to hear that the artist’s work will be on display through February 27, 2016, at New York City’s Scandinavia House in an exhibition titled Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi. Considered one of Denmark’s most prominent artists, Hammershøi gave his realist paintings a dark, somber filter, an approach that was considered overtly daring during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibition offers a lovely look of Hammershøi’s contributions, but his work truly comes to life in Copenhagen, where the artist was born and lived most of his life. For those who want to experience the interiors and landmarks that are evoked in so many of his paintings, here’s a Hammershøi-inspired walking tour of the City of Spires:
From 1898 to 1909, Hammershøi lived with his wife, Ida Ilsted, in an apartment at Strandgade 30, where he painted the 1901 piece showing a lone woman working at a desk in “Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor.” Walk through the courtyard before heading across the street to Strandgade 25, where the artist lived from 1913 to 1916, during which time he created the painting “Four Rooms, Interior From the Artist’s Home, Strandgade 25,” which depicts a series of open doors and a chair and a table. Unfortunately the building, which was most recently a government office, isn’t open to the public, but walk by and perhaps you’ll get a peek through the windows. From there, walk across the Knippelsbro Bridge to Ved Stranden, the street where Hammershøi grew up.
Related: Copenhagen Travel Guide
Head over to the cobble-stoned Amalienborg Square, the site of the four Amalienborg Palaces, one of which is the current home of Her Majesty the Queen Margrethe II. Though the palaces were originally built for noble families, the Danish royal family relocated there in 1794 after Christianborg Palace caught fire. See the regal soldiers guarding the palace, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a royal. Hammershøi painted Amalienborg Square in 1896, capturing one of the palaces and the famed statue of the Square’s founder, King Frederick V, on a horse.
The next stop is Christianborg Palace, which is now home to Parliament and was also the subject of a 1907 Hammershøi painting. From there, cross over the Marble Bridge connected to the palace, and see the view that the artist painted from 1890 to 1892.
Although you can’t enter the apartment on Larslejstræde from which Hammershøi painted it in 1906, you can see the exterior of St. Peter’s Church, a mid–15th century structure that’s also the oldest building in central Copenhagen.
After following Hammershøi’s footsteps, visit the SMK, the National Gallery of Denmark, where there’s a gallery dedicated to the Danish master, and the Hirschsprung museum, which has on display chairs from one of Hammershøi’s homes, his painting tools, and several of the artist’s works. Finally, stop by the David Collection, where there’s a self-portrait of Hammershøi with his wife.