Carl Moll was one of the co-founders of the Viennese Secession. Mostly known for his landscapes, he is also revered (and sought-after) for his serene and elegant interior scenes inspired by Johannes Vermeer, such as White Interior, a canvas marked by a sense of domestic tranquility through its careful balance of color and diffuse light.
Executed in 1905, White Interior depicts a solitary female figure in the center of a highly decorated living room. It is Berta Zuckerkandl (née Szeps) – an important art critique and one of the most influential Jewish figures in Vienna around 1900. She was a fervent supporter of Modern Austrian Art, which she defended in the many articles she wrote as a journalist, as well as in her Salon, where she hosted many celebrities of the time such as Gustav Klimt and Stefan Zweig.
The living room in which Zuckerkandl is depicted is the one from her very first apartment in a rich neighborhood of Vienna. It was decorated by Vienna's then leading architect and designer, Josef Hoffmann, and was considered by many as the epitome of modern design, as exemplified by the symphony of sleek, straight and pure lines and shapes visible in the canvas. In this living room, Zuckerkandl and her husband housed an important collection of East Asian art, an “exotic” taste shared by many collectors and artists at the time.
Weißes Interieur was exhibited in Berlin in early 1905 and again at the Folkwang Museum in Essen in 1906. Its last public appearance was at Vienna’s celebrated Kunstschau in 1908, where it was featured alongside Gustav Klimt’s iconic The Kiss (now in Belvedere Museum). Since then, the work has remained within the same family, who moved from Germany to the United States in the mid-1970s. To mark its reappearance on the market, the painting is offered with a $300,000-500,000 pre-sale estimate – one of the highest figures ever attached to a work by the artist at auction.