Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 152

           ‒          
The artistic reputation of painter, ceramist and designer Svend Hammershøi has been overshadowed
over the years by that of his more famous brother, Vilhelm Hammershøi, nine years his senior. The
artistic quality of Svend’s work is indisputably fine, but the disparity in fame may be explained—at
least in part—because he was even more reclusive than his brother. Like Vilhelm, he was a very pri-
vate person, having only a few close friends outside his family circle, to which he was deeply attached.
Svend never married, never moved from his mother’s home and even after her death in
went on
living there with his sister Anna for the rest of his life.
Surprisingly, Svend Hammershøi’s work had greater recognition than that of Vilhelm during his
own lifetime, but that recognition was primarily for the younger brother’s work as a designer, not for
his painting. Until recently, only a small group of connoisseurs have appreciated and collected his
paintings. Among those few was C. L. David (
), founder of The David Collection Museum
in Copenhagen.
On the other hand, Hammershøi’s achievements as an inventive ceramicist and silver designer
have enjoyed flattering attention from museums and have been the subject of several studies, such as
the one in Tove Jørgensen’s
exhibition catalogue. In recent years, his artistry in these fields has
been featured in several exhibitions, bringing increased interest to his work.
Hammershøi’s education was diverse and thorough. In
, at the age of sixteen, he spent a year
at the Technological School where his teacher, the painter Holger Grønvold (
), was instru-
mental in developing his technical skills. Svend then trained as a painter at the Royal Danish Acad-
emy of Fine Arts from February
until the winter of
, receiving guidance from his brother
Vilhelm in the same period. Soon afterwards, he was accepted in the circle of author Johannes Jør-
gensen (
) who, with his journal
(The Tower), defined Symbolism in Denmark.
, Svend attended Zahrtmann’s School, one of Denmark’s independent art
schools, where he grew as an artist and participated in student exhibitions. With the idealism typi-
cal of the
s, he and his comrades at that school formed an artist group called
The Hellenes
. At
Refsnæs, a scenic region in the western part of the island Zeeland, they sought to demonstrate antique
Greek ideals by uniting art with improvement of the body through athletics. This artistic fraternity
is an early example of the cultural movement that in Denmark is called “vitalism.” Among other prin-
ciples, the followers focused on the healthiness, beauty and force of natural life liberated from the
restrictions of civilization.
In the same period Svend began working with ceramics at (among other places) Kähler’s famous
factory in Næstved where he served as an aide to the designer, Thorvald Bindesbøll (
). Svend
Hammershøi was among those who propelled the great interest in decorative art and artistic crafts-
manship of the
s into the twentieth century.
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