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Edvard Munch

Melancholy

Creation date:Antagelig 1892
Other titles:Melankoli (NOR)
Malinconia (ITA)
Object type:Maleri
Materials and techniques:Olje på lerret
Technique: Olje
Material: Lerret
Dimensions:64 x 96 cm
Indexing term:Bildende kunst
Motif type:Landskap
Acquisition:Testamentarisk gave fra Charlotte og Christian Mustad 1959, innkommet 1970
Object no.:NG.M.02813
Owner and collection:Nasjonalmuseet, The Fine Art Collections
Photo:Nasjonalmuseet / Lathion, Jacques  Download
Part of exhibition:Livets dans. Samlingen fra antikken til 1950 (NOR), 2011
Det magiske nord. Finsk og norsk kunst rundt 1900 (NOR), 2015
Munch 150 (NOR), 2013
Metadata:DigitaltMuseum API

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The dark shoreline curves diagonally in across the picture. On the jetty in the background we can make out three figures. The man in the foreground has turned his back on them. His head and his drooping shoulders stand out distinctly against the pale beach, a shape that is reiterated in the large boulders. The colours, primarily melancholy shades of blue, are softened by the summer night. Here we see a clear symbolist tendency in the simplification and stylisation of form and colours. In a text that can be linked to this motif, Munch noted:

I was walking along the shore – the moon was shining through dark clouds. The stones loomed out of the water, like mysterious inhabitants of the sea. There were large, broad heads that grinned and laughed. Some of them up on the beach, others down in the water. The dark, bluish-violet sea rose and fell – sighs in among the stones … but there is life over there on the jetty. It was a man and a woman – then came another man – with oars across his shoulder. And the boat lay down there – ready to go.

The picture’s thematic content refers to Munch’s friend Jappe Nilssen and his unhappy love life around this time. The landscape is based on the coastline at Åsgårdstrand.

The motif exists in several versions – both as paintings and woodcuts. This too was shown in Berlin in autumn 1892, when Munch’s exhibition at the Verein Berliner Künstler was forcefully criticised in the press and closed after just a few days. The controversy surrounding the exhibition served, however, to draw attention to Munch and his pictures, ensuring that they were energetically discussed in artistic circles.

The painting was a bequest from Charlotte and Christian Mustad in 1959. It was incorporated in the collection in 1970.

Text: Marianne Yvenes
From "Edvard Munch in the National Museum", Nasjonalmuseet 2008, ISBN 978-82-8154-035-54

Edvard Munch. Highlights from the Collection