Wednesday, 28 July 2010

1 Artist, 1 Model, 5 Paintings, 24 Covers

The Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) is most celebrated for his series of interior paintings, many of which featured his wife, Ida, seen from behind. Cold, spare, quiet and intriguing, they are the perfect representation of a certain gloomy domesticity. They are also very frequently used on book covers.

Here are just five of the paintings, spread over 24 books. I've left out of this selection any books that are specifically about Hammershøi himself.

'Interior, Strandgade 30'



'Interior with Woman at Piano, Strandgade 30'



'Interior, Strandgade 30'



'Interior with Young Woman from Behind'



'In a Room with a Piano and a Woman in Black'

 


And, just for interest, here's Ida herself, looking forward for once.



31 comments:

Happy Flower said...

What a great post. Informative. Had good giggle at disconnect between optimism and the lone(ly) figure. Perhaps meant ironically? Would have thought an art history book might have spurred more imaginative cover. Thanks for frontal view of Ida. Now know where to come to find a book cover.

JRSM said...

Thank you!

Patrick Murtha said...

Hammershoi was one of the greatest painters and most distinctive stylists of his time. Yet his name frequently draws a blank from otherwise informed people, so it is good to see your post.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

All the paintings seem sad. Then the las photograph (it is a photo, right?) seems even bleaker.

I can tell she's frowning even when she's turned away from me.

Óscar Palmer said...

What an impressive array! I think this one is my "One image many covers" favorite post so far. Cheers.

JRSM said...

Patrick: My pleasure. And I had the benefit, in researching this, of finding more Hammershoi paintings that I hadn't seen before.

Christy: Definitely a photo--they have a very Scandinavian chilly sadness.

Óscar: Thank you!

Anonymous said...

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Anne H said...

Who can blame them? Hammershoi ROCKS. Here's another one -- same room, but empty:

http://www.amazon.com/Wakefulness-Poems-John-Ashbery/dp/0374525935/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

MrIndieDay said...

I would've never guessed there was such an alluring world behind book covers. This is easily the most unique blog I've run into.

Paul Maitrejean said...

I'm still laughing at the thought of how much money Hammershoi must have made from a single picture/theme if it appeared on the covers of so many books.

It's laughable and almost wrong.

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SleeplessTragician said...

A great post, very informative. There's something very eerie and haunting about those pictures, makes me a bit uneasy, probably because we are looking at her back, so to speak, not her face... One of my favourite posts. Good one! :)

Tom G said...

The mood of the paintings remind me of Edward Hopper. Thanks for posting and introducing me to a new (old) very interesting and talented artist.

Den luttrade bibliotekarien said...

And here is another one by the swedish author Elin Boardy
http://bokbilder.bok.bonnier.se/visabok.aspx?isbn=9789146219224

JRSM said...

Thank you, all. And Anne H and Den luttrade bibliotekarien, I had missed both of those covers. I'll see if I can find any other books that use those paintings.

jess needs a new face said...

there's such a moodiness and sense of an untold life in his paintings that just work so well as intriguing book covers.

mariainesperez said...

I like pretty much your Post, is interesting spy the diagrammer's job.I didn't know the painter, thanks for the cultural point and sorry for my English.

Biblibio said...

I like the images. I'd have liked the images on one (maybe two) covers a little more, though. 24 very similar, somewhat nondescript covers? Can't we do better?

Oh well. I guess it could be lots of covers with bad pictures. At least Hammershoi's paintings are creepily cool...

theTsaritsa said...

Wow! It's funny how a single image can be interpreted in so many ways and be molded to fit such diverse subjects.

Nice post!

Shaun Hume said...

Shouldn't the book designers have had a little more imagination, instead of just Googling the word "desolate" or something similar, and then taken the top image hit? Interesting stuff.

Sarah Johnson said...

That's quite something! I collect duplicate book cover images for historical fiction and am fascinated by how often paintings get reused for cover designs. For this one, here's one more example that can be added (from Ann Turnbull's No Shame, No Fear, a young adult novel).

L. said...

Here's another one: The Picture of Dorian Gray / The Collector of coins http://images.buch.de/images-adb/96/bd/96bd7e1b-96d6-4706-be4c-ccce86bd6313.jpg

Anonymous said...

Also: check out the forthcoming NYRB Classics edition of Theodor Fontane's novel Irretrievable.

JRSM said...

Thank you for all of the suggestions of extra Hammershoi covers. i think part 2 is in order!

Henna @ AboutDivorce Blog said...

i think i have seen all of them at one time or another on some book cover as these type of images are frequently used for imagery and gloom - very common

Ron @ DubaiFunHolidays said...

hmmm... now i know who designs these thing, i never knew that even on a book cover, people work so hard, great post

Beverly Brown said...

What a great idea for a post. I love how Hammershoi's paintings describe a particular mood, yet leave so much to the viewer's imagination - perfect for book covers.

John Self said...

So... he couldn't do faces, then?

LockerTalk said...

Thats pretty interesting!
Got a nice ass for an old gal...

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lockertalk1.blogspot.com !!

Pervaiz said...

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A Sideways Girl said...

Totally agree with Happy Flower... "The Optimist" - made me laugh. It HAS to be meant ironically... not at all an optimistic looking cover... although the door is open :)