Peter Ilsted was born in Saxkobing in 1861 and little is known about his formal training as an artist. Often compared with his compatriot and brother-in-law, Vilhelm Hammershoi, Ilsted exhibited alongside the former at the Paris Salon of 1889 and the Exposition Universelle of 1900 where he received a honorable mention and a third class medal.
The painting of domestic interiors had a long history in Danish art, beginning with the Biedermeir scenes of Christoffer Eckersberg. Both Ilsted and Hammershoi made their reputation with their portrayal of stark interior scenes of which A woman knitting by a window is a prime example. Clearly influenced by the work of Jan Vermeer and James MacNeill Whistler, Ilsted creates an image of a moment frozen in time in an anonymous inner sanctum into which we are voyeurs.