Shortly before I left for Copenhagen, I saw a TV programme presented by Michael Palin in which he talks about his passion for the Danish painter, Hammershoi.

I had never heard of him but was struck by some of the paintings shown in the programme.

In several, you are given the most fleeting glimpse of the capital. Rooftops, a street stretching away.

He seemed to be in love with windows, and the sense of what you may or may not see through the windows he paints is what I like best about his work.

He uses muted tones. There is a lot of grey and the feeling you have is of a sepia world on the cusp of modernity.

When I move around the city, everything is windows. The streets, almost uniform in pseudo neo-classicism, seem to lull you into a sense of controlled tranquillity.

Windows stretch up and along, symmetrical.

But I don’t have a sense of what I am looking at. There is order and regularity but it’s cold and clinical.

In Hammershoi’s interiors, the figures he paints are often downcast, they inhabit anonymous corners of anonymous rooms.

The absences in his paintings say a lot about Copenhagen, I think.

Maybe it’s an architectural reflection of the national character.

It is an inscrutable place. Occasionally, hints flicker like the reflection of candle light in the windows, but are quickly extinguished.


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