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Carl Holsøe (Denmark 1863-1935)

The artist’s wife seated by a window with her needle work

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 14 – 18 June 2022

Lot 824 Carl Holsøe (Denmark 1863-1935). The artist’s wife seated by a window with her needle work. Signed C Holsoe. Oil on canvas, 60 x 58 cm.

Numbered on the reverse: ”88”.


300.000 – 400.000 SEK
€ 29.000 – 38.000


Kleis kunsthandel, Vesterbrogade 58, Copenhagen.

In context

The Nordic serenity brilliantly captured by Carl Holsøe

Ever since his debut Carl Holsøe has brilliantly captured the essence of the Nordic serenity in his refined manner, making him one of the most admired Scandinavian painters of his time. Holsøe’s tranquil and elegant interiors are evoking a sense of stillness and timelessness in which his paintings almost become memories of an everlasting etherical moment. Illuminated by the natural light, the elegant lady is sitting by a window with her needlework. Pictured in profile, wearing a black dress with a white collar and her hair in a fashionable coiffure she is captured in deep concentration, absorbed by her work. As a viewer we are invited to gaze into a private moment in the home of the Holsøe family.

The fascinating imagery of Carl Holsøe was the result of years of education at the foremost institutions in Denmark. Born and raised in the town of Aarhus, Holsøe eventually continued his studies in Copenhagen where he enrolled the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi where he studied under the famous P.S. Krøyer. His fellow students included, among others, Vilhelm Hammershøi and Peter Ilsted. These three artists found themselves interested in the same things and was soon thereafter about to form the new elite of the Danish painters. The former generation with artists like P.S. Krøyer and Anna & Michael Ancher, had been highly appreciated for their plein air impressionist approach on the Danish countryside and everyday life in the wonderful coastal village of Skagen. The Skagen painters cleared the way for Holsøe and his friends, who in return focused their motifs on the interiors and suggestive ambience inside the homes of the Danish people. With an artistic ancestry rooted in the formal traditions of the Dutch Golden Age and inspired by masters like Johannes Vermeer, Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch, Holsøe’s figures are contemplative and still, caught in their own reverie.

Both Holsøe and Hammershøi frequently used their wives as muses and models in their paintings, however the identity of the woman is always concealed. Either depicted from behind or with her head turned away from the viewer, her presence stresses the painting’s haunting tension of curiosity. Being invited to the family’s private rooms creates a very special intimacy, like we are secretly visiting a place that we should not really have access to. At the same time the anonymous person becomes both an individual we can all relate to as well as a hidden gem that we do not know a thing about. The beautifully decorated rooms, very often painted in light colour tones of white, grey or beige nuances enhances the elegancy of the appreciated humble Scandinavian interior design. The characteristic shimmering light flourishing in through the window reflects in the beautifully furnished room. The symmetrical framing balances the composition perfectly with the pair of mahogany mirrors and console tables enhances the focus to the scene in the center of the painting with the woman in front of her open sewing table. The pink tones in the curtains and the carpet on the floor express an invitingly warm sense of a loving, welcoming home. The peaceful environment has been captured in a quiet moment of true harmony by the artist in an eternal beloved moment.

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Sofie Bexhed


Tel: 0705-22 61 62

Fredrik Fellbom


Skulptur och grafik
Tel: 0707-51 81 31

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