Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 171

VILHELM HAMMERSHØI
   ‒    
.
Portrait of Miss Ellen Becker
(

)
(Portræt af frøken Ellen Becker)
Oil,
²⁄₅  ¾
in. (

x

cm)
       :
The painter Kristian Møhl (


); Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Auction

,

, lot

; Arne Bruun Ras-
mussen, Auction

,

, lot

, ill.; Bruun Rasmussen, Auction

,

, lot

, ill.
         :
Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen,
Vilhelm Hammershøi
,

, no.

(belonging to the painter Møhl).
         :
Sophus Michaëlis and Alfred Bramsen,
Vilhelm Hammershøi, Kunstneren og hans Værk
, Copenhagen

, no.

(as
painted in

, described as:
Portræt
); Susanne Meyer-Abich,
Vilhelm Hammershøi. Das malerische Werk
, Inauguraldissertation,
Ruhr-Universität, Bochum

, no.

(described as:
Fräulein Becker
).
H
ammershøi painted a fair number of portraits around

. Among themwas one of a young woman,
Miss Ellen Becker (


), whose subsequent married name was Faber. It is a head and shoulders
portrait in which she is seen in three-quarter pro
fi
le to the right with her face in shadow. She is wearing a
quite simple white dress, the only ornament on which is a small upright collar; she wears no jewellery. The
background is pale, greyish white with an admixture of bluish rose. Together with the shadow falling on the
dress, Ellen Becker’s dark hair and dark eyes form a contrast to the lighter parts of the painting. The colours
of the complexion of the face are pink with a touch of violet. By means of a restrictive colour scale, the
artist has again created a harmony of colour of great artistic beauty. With a shimmering reproduction of
the shape, brought about by virtue of quite small di
ff
erences in nuance in the individual colours, Ham-
mershøi has endowed his painting with depth, atmosphere and life.
In Bramsen’s register of

this painting is listed as number

and described as the
fi
nal version of
three in all. The other two are slightly smaller. Number

measures
½
x
¼
in. (

x

cm), and here the
artist has included more of the young woman’s
fi
gure and arms. Work number

, which measures
⁹⁄₁₀
x
¼
in.
(

x

cm), is not described in any detail. They were both sold in

in the artist’s estate auction,
and their present owners are unknown. No photographs of them have been discovered to allow comparison.
Bramsen also states that the painting in the Loeb collection was exhibited in Munich in

. He prob-
ably aims at the
IV. Internationale Kunstausstellung
in the Glaspalast at Munich that year in which Hammer-
shøi took part with four paintings, including as number

a portrait of a woman, also painted in

.
However, according to the catalogue it was not that of Miss Becker, but a portrait of the painter Elisabeth
Wandel (


) (no.

in Bramsen’s register).
Ellen Becker was the daughter of the pharmacist Ludvig Becker and belonged to the cultured middle
classes. There is nothing to tell us how she came to know Hammershøi or why this portrait was painted. In

, at the age of almost

, she married Doctor Knud Faber (


), who was the leading
fi
gure of the
day in clinical science, a professor and consultant in Rigshospitalet, the State University Hospital of Den-
mark. The marriage was a harmonious and happy one. In his memoirs, Faber gives a beautiful description
of her charm and the support she a
ff
orded him in all conditions of life. He especially emphasised the
understanding she had for his work on behalf of the community and praised her strong character, which
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