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Peter Ilsted (1861–1933) was a leading Danish artist and printmaker.
Ilsted, Carl Holsoe and Ilsted’s brother-in-law, Vilhelm Hammershøi,
were the leading artists in early 20th century Denmark. All three
artists were members of ‘The Free Exhibition’, a progressive art society
created around 1890. They are famous for painting images of "Sunshine
and Silent Rooms", all in subtle colors. Their works reflects the
orderliness of a tranquil life –- similar to the earlier works of
Vermeer. Their art was later referred to as the ‘Copenhagen Interior
These interiors evoke at once a sense of calm, as well as a
sense of mystery. The orderly rooms are often viewed from behind—causing
one to wonder if the scenes are really tranquil or something else.
James McNeill Whistler, Duret and important art critics were early
admirers and collectors of Ilsted’s work.
Ilsted was Hammershøi's
brother-in-law. While at first glance their work appears similar, it is
in fact quite different. Hammershøi’s work has an aloof austerity, in
contrast to Ilsted's scenes of common life. Though sometimes
Hammershøi’s colorful early pictures are reminiscent of James Tissot,
his work is quintessentially Danish. However, Ilsted was more of a
technician, and he made considerable contributions in the field of
graphic art. Ilsted’s mezzotints (colored à la poupeé) were very popular
and important in his day. They were an innovation in the media. Ilsted
exhibited his work all over Europe, in London in 1907, in Germany and at
the Paris Salon. It is there that his work was first exposed to
Europe’s art community.
Ilsted was a great success in his lifetime
and won many awards and accolades for his work. He was the only member
of the group to also focus on printmaking. Ilsted’s achievements in
mezzotints were revolutionary. Some of his mezzotints, most of which
were created in black as well as color editions, are considered among
the greatest ever made. His greatest contribution which T.F. Simon,
Manuel Robbe, and others seemingly adopted was that of inking the plate à
la poupeé. Some art historians have argued that these 3 men created the
technique at about the same time but without consultation. This belief
is not certain.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) held an important exhibition on the work of Ilsted, Hammershøi, and Vermeer in 2001.
The best resource on the artist is Sunshine and Silent Rooms, (c) 1990, Theodore B. Donson Ltd. This book is long out of print.
"Peter Ilsted", Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ilsted (Accessed 5/13/2013)
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