These two moving highlights from the forthcoming Impressionist & Modern Sale reveal as much about the artists, Edvard Munch and Georg Scholz, as the subject matter they both returned to throughout their careers.
‘‘I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.’’ Edvard Munch
This June, Sotheby’s is offering two extraordinary works, Georg Scholz’s Nächtlicher Lärm and a rare lithograph of Edvard Munch’s Expressionist masterpiece The Scream, an image that perfectly illustrates the enduring power of Munch’s imagery and the profound impact it has made on modern art and culture. This lithographic version of The Scream was originally owned by Norwegian industrialist and art collector Olaf Schou, and acquired from the artist himself in around 1900, by which time Schou had become a significant patron of Munch’s work, and a good friend. Schou was well known for making significant donations to the National Gallery in Oslo including Munch’s Madonna, and a tempera and crayon version of The Scream gifted in 1910.
Whilst Munch presents a universal, existentialist image of the human condition, it sits appropriately alongside Scholz’s Nächtlicher Lärm, which focusses on a specific historical and political reality of the post-war period. The night-time setting depicts the artist’s psychological state; its silence violently pierced by a cry that emanates from the figure’s mouth, and expands to fill the entire composition. Employing sharp edges and dynamic forms influenced by Futurist art, Scholz transforms his darkest emotions of fear into a powerful, arresting image.
Nächtlicher Lärm uses expressive, contrasting colours to convey the depth of human suffering and terror – a psychedelic echo of Munch’s The Scream. Georg Scholz served in the First World War from the summer of 1915 until 1918, and was wounded just a few months before its end. Painted in 1919, the work reflects the horror he had witnessed during the war, as well as the violence and oppression during the years that followed in struggling Weimar Germany.
Both works will be offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale on 21 June.