Amalienborg Square, Copenhagen | Vilhelm Hammershøi
Among all of Hammershøis paintings of architecture Amalienborg Square, Copenhagen is the most monumental and grand. From a position in Christian VIII’s mansion, one of the four mansions that make up the present-day Amalienborg Palace, Hammershøi painted the view towards the equestrian statue of Frederik V, created by the French sculptor Saly, and towards the Christian IX mansion, which now serves as the monarch’s residence. The striking lighting scheme with the strongly lit base and rider highlights the monument and prevents it from becoming lost against the architecture and its wealth of detail. As in this work, Hammershøi’s paintings of architecture are usually devoid of human presence. This does not preclude the presence of traces of human activity, yet by mustering his exceptional technical and compositional skills Hammershøi achieves a mastery of his motifs so great that he appears to be draining them of life. As observers we get a sense that time is not just passing with tremendous slowness, but that Hammershøi has successfully stopped time altogether. Hammershøi does not paint modern urban life or new buildings. He favours the classical 18th century face of Copenhagen with its monumental mansions.