Finding interior inspiration in art

Interior pictures offer a little window into domestic history.

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On November 15 Dore & Rees offers Sunlit Interior by 20th century Danish artist Adolf Andersen in its sale of the Ralph Bateman Collection. It has an estimate of £300-500. The sunlight hall opens onto two rooms, though only one room is visible, a blue kitchen. With fresh flowers on a stand in the hall, the open door and the well-scrubbed floors the house gives the impression of being neat and well-loved.

Dutch ‘golden age’ painters of the 16th and 17th centuries are among the most important painters in this genre. Their pictures captured scenes of daily life often populated by women, children and servants. As often as not they are in the kitchen or scullery and offer fascinating glimpses of how the home was run as well as how it was decorated.

Interiors remain a popular branch of art. They pop up most frequently as still-life studies, but can also depict entire rooms or even a series of rooms, either populated or not.

There is much to be gained from looking at these. Who, you might ask, is the owner of the room? What sort of home is it in? Is it much lived-in or more or less empty? Beyond that it is a brilliant way to enjoy historic interiors – and maybe pick up a little inspiration for your contemporary one.

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Interior with Red Door by Siegried Soloman Alweiss (or ‘Alva’ 1901-73), a German painter, is offered at Roseberys Modern British & 20th Century Art sale of November 29 with an estimate of £700-900. It’s a sparse room but suggests a sort of intimate comfort. A coat, hat and umbrella hang on the door, suggesting it’s the main entrance. It could well be a flat lived in by a single person – note the slippers in front of the entryway and the absence of other coats.

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This acrylic and collage on paper by Dawn Beckles That We Can Make It (2023) is part of Dreweatts’ Art on a Postcard Winter Auction held in aid of the Hepatitis C Trust on November 23. Bids open at £50. In the cataloguing, it says that Beckles “reimagines classic still life with vibrant colours and contemporary settings infused with her Barbadian roots”. This interior juxtaposes modern choices – the sofa, the large pink picture – with more classic touches – the flower, echoed by the Old Master painting behind it. The room is unoccupied, but thanks to the hot pink floor, large furnishings and purple wall it’s easy to imagine the owner as wealthy and exuberant.

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Salon interior by Franz Huth (1876-1970) is offered with an estimate of €400 at Eppili Auktionshalle in Germany at its Arts & Antiques sale of November 25. The room features a rococo console table, candelabra and chair. Despite the attention given to the interior, the large partially open window dominates the scene. The golden light contrasts with the smoky blues of the interior but lights up the gilded furniture.

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Costa Blanca Auctions in Calpe, Spain, offers this oil on cardboard kitchen scene at its Paintings and Decorative Arts sale on November 25. Estimated at €100-200, the 20th century French picture shows a massive fireplace adorned with copper vessels. Despite the inclusion of various antiques, including Middle Eastern jug and an oil lamp, it is a modern interior. The floor is highly polished and though sunlight streams through the window, the area is closed off, giving the space a feeling of being much cared for and carefully controlled.

Tags: Fine Art
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