The halves of a painting Edvard Munch sawed in two will be reunited at the British Museum.
Edvard Munch, Self-Portrait with Tulla Larsen, ca. 1905. Courtesy Munchmuseet. Photo by Sidsel de Jong.
A new exhibition of works by Edvard Munch, titled “Edvard Munch: love and angst” and opening Thursday at the British Museum, will shine a light on a troubled moment in the great painter’s life.
In 1902, Munch and his fiancée Tulla Larsen got into an argument that escalated to the point of a gun being fired. The details surrounding the incident remain unresolved, but Munch sustained a bullet wound to his left hand. In the aftermath of the conflict, Munch sawed a portrait of him and Larsen in two, one lover on each side. British Museum curator Giulia Bartrum has decided to display these two halves side by side.
Bartrum told The Guardian:
He did this extraordinary portrait at the height of their relationship. [...] He looks red-faced and she looks pretty fed up. The halves have remained in the Munch family. [...] Munch had hugely complicated relationships with women. [...] He almost physically feared them. He was nervous about commitment to the point of neurosis. And perhaps his most torturous relationship was with Larsen.
Munch and Larsen were together for roughly four years, and though they were engaged, the two never married. Munch fled Larsen’s advances all throughout Europe, and Larsen steadfastly followed. Munch drew on this relationship as inspiration for some works in his series of paintings about love and death, “The Frieze of Life.”