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Details & Cataloguing

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Edvard Munch
1863 - 1944
VAMPIRE II (WOLL 41; SCHIEFLER 34)
Lithograph printed in black and orange over the woodcut printed in green, blue and ochre, 1895-1902, Woll's sixth state (of ten), signed in pencil, on smooth, tissue-thin wove paper, framed 
image: 383 by 558mm 15 by 21 7/8 in
sheet: 435 by 630mm 17 1/8 by 24 3/4 in
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Catalogue Note

'A broken-down man and on his neck a dominant, biting vampire figure... There is something fearfully calm and passionless about this picture; the fatality of an immense resignation. The man rolls in the unfathomable abyss, without will, powerless, and rejoices that he can roll without will, like a stone. But he cannot free himself from the vampire, nor the pain, and the woman will always sit there, and will always bite with a thousand snakes' tongues, with a thousand poisoned fangs.'

The Polish author Stanisław Przybyszewski offered this interpretation of Munch’s oil on canvas portrayal of the Vampire in 1894. In fact, it was Przybyszewski’s evocative observation that inspired the artist to rename the subject. The composition was originally known as Love and Pain, a title that succinctly captured the conflicting motivations – of desire and dread, lust and angst – that lie at the heart of this iconic image.

Munch created his first black and white lithographs of the Vampire in 1895. In a typically experimental and innovative move, the artist later combined woodcut and lithographic elements to create polychrome impressions of the subject. These images are complex and absorbing – both technically and visually. Each impression is also singular: as Elizabeth Prelinger explains, the coloured prints 'are distinguished by their invention, evocation, and beauty. The printing variations render many impressions unique as well as monumental, reflecting the importance that Munch assigned to them.' (Prelinger, Edvard Munch: Master Printmaker, p. 111).

The present impression is printed on fine, lustrous tissue, which has the effect of holding the ink on the surface of the paper. This gives the printing an exceptional consistency, luminosity and richness, setting it apart from other impressions of the subject. Furthermore, the blue and green areas of the composition are here particularly prominent. Their intensity serves to encapsulate the figures, closing in on them and thus accentuating their inescapable predicament.

Prints & Multiples

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London