Georgina Kelman::Works on Paper

Peter Ilsted - Sunshine and Private Rooms

Peter Ilsted - Sunshine and Private Rooms

Peter Ilsted

A member of the “Copenhagen Interior School” of artists, Peter Ilsted’s work is characterized by a simultaneous air of stillness and mystery. A master of the mezzotint, Ilsted’s compositions are carefully conceived and presented in muted colors, often added “à la poupée”. The subjects are typically girls or women, seen from behind, in elegant but simply furnished interiors.

Though comparisons can certainly be made to his famous brother-in-law Vilhelm Hammershøi, Ilsted’s imagery tends to be domestic rather than foreboding. The interiors may seem hushed, but the viewer can imagine laughter behind a closed door.

I invite you to browse this selection of color mezzotints by one of Denmark’s best kept artistic secrets and discover his contemplative depictions of private domains.

Image Credit:

Peter Ilsted "Expecting a Guest (O/S 6)", 1911

"His use of it [the mezzotint technique] exploits its remarkable capacity for subtle gradation between deep, intangible shadows and bright light. The results are as though he was depicting the quality and character of the light that percolates and reflects in the interior of a house: He captures the light rather than the surfaces on which it rests."

"The Gentle Solitude of Peter Ilsted's Interiors", Author Unknown, The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 1989

Peter Ilsted

Young Girl by a Semi-Circular Table (O/S 1)

1909

6 ¼" x 7 ⅞"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Signed in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Peter Ilsted

Sunshine (O/S 2)

1909

13 ⅛" x 10 ⅝"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Signed in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Peter Ilsted "Two Young Girls at a Window (O/S 42)", 1924

Peter Ilsted

Young Girl Sewing (O/S 4)

1910

6 ½" x 5"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 50. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Peter Ilsted

Expecting a Guest (O/S 6)

1911

13 ⅛" x 15 ¼"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 150. Signed in pencil in margin.

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Peter Ilsted "Artist's Self Portrait with a Cigarette", 1898

Peter Ilsted

The Mandolin Player (O/S 8)

1911

8 ¾" x 8 3/16"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 100. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

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Peter Ilsted

At the Spinet (O/S 10)

1911

13 ⅞" x 12 ⅝"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Artist's proof aside from the edition of 150. Signed and notated "Prøvetryk [test print]" in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Historic Liselund

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Interior (O/S 11)

Peter Ilsted

1911

16 ¼" x 15 ⅛"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 75. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

Peter Ilsted

The Silhouette

1913

7" x 6"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 25. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -
9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

Peter Ilsted

Toadstools (O/S 20)

1913

8 ⅝" x 14 ⅜"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 40. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

Peter Ilsted

Two Young Girls at a Window (O/S 42)

1924

15 ¾" x 13"

Mezzotint printed in colors

Edition of 100. Signed and numbered in pencil in margin.

9 EvB- Artwork 9 (Gachet) (Portraits) -

The Danish artist Peter Vilhelm Ilsted (1861-1933) drew what he knew best – quiet, peaceful scenes of everyday life in early 19th century interiors. Though a gifted painter he was an exceptional printmaker, particularly in the medium of mezzotints, a technique he studied in England and perfected with the addition of color applied with cloth “à la poupée”.

Peter Ilsted enjoyed a very successful career as a portrayer of the kind of domestic tranquility that provided a counterpoint to the encroachment of industrialization into Danish culture. His compositions went beyond mere decoration into enigmatic and compelling portrayals of mostly solitary female subjects. He depicted scenes from his own family life using settings from his home in Copenhagen as well as summer holidays at the country estate of Liselund, an 18th century manor house and gardens on the Danish island of Møn.

Together with his brother-in-law Vilhelm Hammershøi and the artist Carl Holsøe, Ilsted was a member of Den Frie Udstilling [Free Exhibitions], a progressive artists association founded in 1891. Later, they formed the core of the Copenhagen Interior School and while their styles were very similar, a closer look shows distinct differences. Holsøe focused on the actual room and it its furnishings, while Hammershøi’s works were more austere psychological studies of settings and situations. Ilsted tended to use more color and his subjects are more alive. It is interesting to note that Hammershøi and his wife were childless, while the Ilsteds had three daughters and a son.

Peter Ilsted’s legacy embodies not only his œuvre of beautiful and technically proficient paintings and prints but also as an important innovator in the mezzotint technique. His snapshots of domesticity are silent yet joyful, mysterious yet intimate, old fashioned but still very modern.

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Georgina Kelman::Works on Paper

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