Carl Vilhelm Holsøe

(1863 - 1935)

By the Window

Signed, lower right: C. Holsöe
Oil on canvas
24¾ x 21¼ in – 63 x 54 cm
Frame size
30 x 26½ in – 76.2 x 67.3 cm

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Private collection, Denmark 
Holsoe married Emilie Heise in 1894 and she was undoubtedly his most frequent model, as is the case with the present work. Whoever the sitter was, Holsoe rarely shows us their face as a whole, presenting instead a profile or even reverse view of the head. This unconventional approach instantly makes his work somewhat enigmatic and therefore intriguing. Holsoe was also a master at capturing the pure yet vivid character of Scandinavian light. The play of this light on the various compositional elements imbues seemingly inanimate objects - curtains, silver, ceramic - with a strong sense of movement and presence, thus creating works that are peaceful and serene yet full of life.


Carl Vilhelm Holsøe was born in Lyngbye near Arhus in Denmark. He studied at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen between 1882-1884, and subsequently at the Artist’s ‘Studieskole’ under Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909), perhaps the most influential Danish artist of his generation.

In 1886, Holsøe made his debut at the Charlottenberg December exhibition with an interior scene, a subject for which he was to become renowned. Interior scenes, often sparsely furnished rooms were a feature of Danish painting in the latter part of the 19th Century. Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) a contemporary of Holsøe was also a painter who specialised in such scenes, frequently, like Holsøe including a single, invariably, female figure. Holsøe achieves a defined space in these interiors through harmonious colours, subdued light and the careful juxtaposition of objects. He was enormously popular throughout Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, receiving an honourable mention at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1889 and a medal at the Munich Exhibition of 1891.

His works can be found in museums in: Copenhagen and Munich.

Carl Vilhelm Holsøe