Peter Ilsted's superior technical skills, which enabled him to master numerous media and achieve a flawless rendition of light and shadow, sets him apart from his contemporaries. His orderly, beautiful and widely celebrated works - paintings, prints and mezzotints - are like odes to tranquillity. They are un-dramatic, even serene, yet they have a subtle and almost hypnotic charm, which seems to make time stand still. Whether portraying landscapes, still lifes, Italian villages, interiors, family scenes or portraits, Ilsted manages to capture their inner essence.
In Interiør med kunstnerens datter (Interior with the artist's daughter), Ilsted has created a highly charged psychological atmosphere. The focus of the painting is the figure of one of his three daughters, Kamma, Eva or Ellen, in bed, reading. She is painted from a distance and the viewpoint is through an open door. Outside the room, on the panelling next to the door, Ilsted has painted the silhouetted portrait of another girl, a highly unusual narrative detail. Perhaps the girl in the bed is ill and this is a concerned sister, unsure whether she should disturb, or perhaps she is about to surprise her unassuming sibling. Whatever the scenario, the shadow highlights the delicate rendering of light in the work, coming from an invisible source to the left of the room. Creating rich nuances of white, grey, brown and black, it falls beautifully on the covers in the bed and on the copper vase in the right hand corner. The painting hanging above the bed is probably a landscape by Ilsted's fellow painter, brother-in-law and close friend Vilhelm Hammershøi, who became an increasing inspiration in Ilsted's art. The strict geometrical composition in this interior - made up of the vertical door panels, the horizontal bed and the two framed paintings - testifies to the influence of Hammershøi's minimalist interiors. Yet, Ilsted's works are generally less austere than those of his counterpart, and have considerably more 'glow'.
The interior is likely to be from Ilsted's apartment on Gammel Kongevej in Copenhagen. Unusual for most of his works in oil, he created a mezzotint of the reading girl from this painting.