Edvard Munch, ‘Woman with long Hair’, 1896, Christie's

Signed in pencil, a very good impression of this rare print, with a light plate tone, printed and signed by Otto Felsing, Berlin, the full sheet, generally in very good condition.
Plate 245 x 100 mm, Sheet 446 x 313 mm.

From the Catalogue:
This early etching by Munch of a woman with long hair and exposed breasts is a precursor to one of his most famous lithographs, The Sin (Woll 198) in 1902. Munch’s representations of women are highly ambiguous. Other etchings with similar compositions from around this period, such as Madonna (Woll 11) and The Woman I (Woll 21), are explicitly sexual in their depiction of the female body. In contrast, and much like The Sin, the present work seems more of a psychological study, with the woman’s eyebrows furrowed in thought, and the closely cropped composition focuses more on the expression on her face and hair than her exposed breasts.

For a woman to have her hair unfurled during the 19th century was considered equivalent to nakedness, yet this figure seems to embody the suffering associated with love rather than the feelings of desire and temptation traditionally associated with such an image. It is instructive in this context to consider the etching The Woman and the Heart (Woll 55), which was originally etched onto the same plate as Woman with Long Hair. The two works were conceived alongside one another and were frequently printed together even after the plate had been cut in two. The Woman and the Heart shows a woman holding a large heart away from her body, the blood dripping onto the ground and onto her feet. It is unclear if the heart is her own, or whether the women on the two parts of the plate are the same figure, yet they clearly both signify the suffering associated with love.
—Courtesy of Christie's

Schiefler 47; Woll 54

A gift by the artist to Dr. Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Becker (1881-1972), Bielefeld (according to a letter from Becker to Edvard Munch, dated 9 April 1931 [Munchmuseet MM K 3688]); then by descent to the present owners.

About Edvard Munch

A recognized forerunner of Expressionism, Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch is renowned for his representations of emotion. Associated with the international development of Symbolism, Munch experimented with many different themes, palettes, and styles of drawing. Though stylistically influenced by Paul Gauguin and the Nabis, Munch’s subjects are drawn from his Scandinavian roots and his own tortured psyche. His most famous painting, The Scream (1893), illustrates a tormented cry translated into waves of color that resonate across the landscape. Though based on Munch’s own experience, The Scream has become an instantly recognizable symbol of anxiety and alienation. Often reworking his paintings into etchings and lithographs, Munch was also one of the major graphic artists of the 20th century—he took an experimental approach to printmaking and contributed to the revival of the woodcut.

Norwegian, 1863-1944, Løten, Norway, based in Oslo, Norway