oil on canvas
136 x 110 cm (53 1/2 x 43 3/8 in.)
signed and dated lower right
In 1913 Munch stated: ”Now it’s the turn of shadows. For realism it was facades. For Impressionism, character, now it’s shadows and movements.” The latter are the principal elements in the present painting, which was executed three years later. Rather than being a mere realistic representation, everything happening in the picture-plane surrounding the woman gives the painting a powerful emotional atmosphere. Munch’s model for this painting was his friend Frøydis Mjølstad, a woman Munch painted several times from 1916 onwards. Her dress is painted in vivid brushstrokes and she is sitting with her hands in her lap. Munch brings forth the melancholy in her face, especially around the eyes. The extremely expressive background makes this painting intriguing. It has an almost turbulent character; there is a suggestive emphasis of the three-dimensional element and a movement outwards in the otherwise so quiet portrait. The ochre-yellow wall is painted with brushstrokes that appear to encircle the figure and curve around her like a protecting cave. A blanket thrown over the furniture appears behind her head and gives a dark, meaningful and perhaps ominous shadow. Though depicting the physical appearance of the woman, Munch rather painted a portrait of her inner life.
Edvard Munch • Seated Young Woman