23.Edvard Munch, ‘Melancholy’, 1892.

23.Edvard Munch, ‘Melancholy’, 1892.


E.M. Bequeathed by Charlotte and Christian Mustad, received in 1970

During the 1890 s, Munch spent several summers in 'sg'rdstrand, in the company of friends from Kristiania ‘s bohemian circle. The model for the foreground figure, resting his head on his hand, was writer and art critic Jappe Nilssen. The reason for his gloom is to be found on the jetty in the background: his loved one is making her way out to the boat together with another man and the boatman.

The landscape reflects the quiet, pensive mood. The motif is simplified and the stones in the foreground are stylised. Depth is achieved by means of the undulating shoreline and the small size of the background figures which are merely suggested by a few swift brushstrokes. During his years in Paris, Munch had been influenced by the Synthetists’ summary rendering of subject – matter and by the flowing contours of Art Nouveau. Rodin ‘s famous sculpture The Thinker had revived the centuries – old pose signifying introverted reflection, familiar from reliefs on classical tombs and also, for example, from D'rer ‘s well – known engraving Melancholy where Melancholia personified leans her head on her left arm.

Melancholy is a cardinal work among Munch’s Frieze of Life paintings. It exists in several, differing versions and was the point of departure for one of the best – known woodcuts.

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