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53

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Edvard Munch
GESCHREI (THE SCREAM) (WOLL 38; SCHIEFLER 32)
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,405,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
53

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTOR

Edvard Munch
GESCHREI (THE SCREAM) (WOLL 38; SCHIEFLER 32)
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,405,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York

Edvard Munch
1863 - 1944
GESCHREI (THE SCREAM) (WOLL 38; SCHIEFLER 32)
Signed in pencil Edvard Munch (lower right)
Lithograph, Woll's B state of C, on wove paper
Image: 13 3/4 by 27 1/4 in.; 35 by 69.2 cm
Sheet: 23 1/2 by 16 3/8 in.; 59.6 by 41.7 cm
Conceived in 1895.
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Provenance

Christian Langgaard, Oslo

Børsum antikvariat, Oslo

Kaare Berntsen, Oslo

Lionel and Sally Epstein Collection, Washington D.C. (acquired from the above circa 1970)

Private Collection, Oslo

Acquired from the above

Literature

Gustav Schiefler, Verzeichnis des graphischen Werks Edvard Munchs bis 1906, Oslo, 1974, no. 32

Sarah Epstein, Edvard Munch: Master Prints from the Epstein Family Collection, Washington, DC, 1990, illustrated p. 73

Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch - The Complete Graphic Work, London and Oslo, 2001, no. 38

Catalogue Note

The earliest known studies relating to the Scream are a series of drawings in the early 1890s culminating in the 1892 painting Despair, which depicts the artist leaning against a rail and looking out onto the expanse of nature before him. He wrote the following text to accompany the image and describe his personal experience: "I walked with two friends. Then the sun sank. Suddenly the sky turned as red as blood, and I felt a touch of sadness. I stood still, and leant against the railings. Above the bluish-black fjord and above the city the sky was like blood and flames. My friends walked on, and I was left alone, trembling with fear. I felt as if all nature were filled with one mighty unending shriek." (Timm, Werner, The Graphic Art of Edvard Munch, London,1973,  p. 69) In one sketch for Despair, Munch redirects the gaze of his central figure, so rather than looking out into the scene with his back to the viewer, the head is rotated, looking instead at the viewer. From here it is likely that Munch derived the inspiration for the well-known Scream painted in 1893 (Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway). The increasingly confrontational central figure in the foreground elicits a more expressive reaction from its audience than its predecessor. Elizabeth Prelinger writes in The Symbolist Prints of Edvard Munch (New Haven, CT, 1996) that the Scream is not only frequently signaled as the artist's signature motif, but has also become one of the most incisive images of the late twentieth century.

First printed in Berlin, the subject also appeared in the December 1, 1895 issue of Paris's La Revue Blanche, a periodical which printed works by avant-garde writers and contemporary printmakers. The Symbolist movement, important in Europe in the late 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century, embraced printmaking as a technique capable of more effectively rendering the expressive and absolute nature of their artistic philosophy which mined for truth in the human soul. The graphic versions of 1895 refine the earlier painted treatments of the subject, emphasizing line over color in the depiction of what Munch called an 'infinite scream through nature.'Munch successfully recaptures the inescapable psychological impact of his colorful, painted works in these linear and monochromatic printed versions. Though a few of the lithographs were printed on red or mauve paper (the red in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts) and others hand-colored in watercolor (Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway), Munch's graphic works were mostly printed on white or cream paper with black ink. In these, he relied on stark contrasts and the potential for tonal subtleties inherent in lithographic technique to create a deeply powerful visual effect. It is the perfect graphic representation of his earlier, written expression of the Scream.

The inscription on the bottom right of the lithograph is printed in German "Ich fühlte das grosse Geschrei durch die Natur" (I felt the great scream throughout nature). The quivering, androgynous figure clutches the sides of its face with oversized hands, the gaping void of its mouth and hollow sockets of its eyes further emphasized by the sinuous lines of its curving form. A series of continuous and curving lines appear to reverberate back and forth from the stark blankness of the paper, further conveying the notion that the scream radiates from the figure in the center throughout nature in the background. The uniformity in color gives a cohesive, even iconic quality to the image, further enhanced by the single word 'Geschrei' (or 'Scream'), which is printed in the bottom center of the sheet below the image. This lithograph, one of only a handful of prints of the subject, at once concise and emotive, encapsulates Edvard Munch's great interest in realizing Symbolism in visual art.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York