The 1901 scene Interior with Woman at Piano will be offered with a $2.5m-3.5m estimate on November 14. It will appear in the flagship Sotheby’s sale alongside a still-life by Paul Cézanne and a pastel of a bather by Edgar Degas.
While the 22in x 17.5in (56 x 45cm) oil on canvas would seem fairly typical of the brooding interior scenes that he painted at his apartment in Copenhagen’s Strandgade 30, Sotheby’s said the work dates from Hammershøi’s “most accomplished period” and incorporates “mesmeric psychological complexity”.
It was last sold at auction at Sotheby's New York in 1993, when it was offered in a 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture sale, and was knocked down at $90,000.
The auctioneers pointed out that since the work was last offered on the market, Hammershøi has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions in Europe, Asia and America, which has “prompting overdue recognition of one of Denmark’s most innovative and celebrated artists”.
Whether Interior with Woman at Piano will appeal to big-spending Imps & Mods buyers remains to be seen, but this picture was one of the works that featured in the well-received Hammershøi retrospective at London’s Royal Academy in 2008-9 which later travelled to the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.
Earlier this year, Sotheby’s sold another Hammershøi interior scene in London – White Doors which fetched a premium-inclusive £1.45m and was bought by Copenhagen’s Ordrupgaard Museum.
Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, Head of Sotheby’s Denmark, said: “It is very exciting to be offering a second masterpiece by Hammershøi in the space of a year… Now is truly the moment for Hammershøi, whose international standing is greater than ever.”