As we open our newest exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi, we have something huge to celebrate. In 2015, the AGO acquired the first painting by the Danish master to enter a Canadian museum. Interior with Four Etchings, a characteristic work created at the height of the artist’s career, was for many decades in a private Toronto collection and has been seen publicly only once before, during an exhibition in Japan.
Painted in the Hammershøi apartment at Strandgade 30 in old Copenhagen, the work features some of the artist’s favourite motifs: a closed, square piano with chair, cherished antique Royal Copenhagen porcelain, four heavily framed, indistinct etchings and, most important of all, his wife Ida, who would model for him more than seventy times.
So how did this masterpiece come to reside at the AGO? We chatted with our outgoing curator of European Art Lloyd DeWitt to ask about the history of this painting and the role the Department of Canadian Heritage played in helping to keep it in Canada.