- Edvard Munch
- SUMMER DAY
- signed Edv. Munch (lower left)
- oil on canvas
- 90.5 by 195.5cm.
- 35 5/8 by 77in.
Dr Curt Glaser, Berlin (acquired by 1930)
Nationalgalerie, Berlin (acquired from the above in 1931)
Seized as 'degenerate art' on 30th October 1937 (inventory no. 15662) and brought to Koepenicker Strasse
Depot Schloss Schoenhausen
Hermann Goering, Germany (acquired from the above)
City Auksjon, Oslo, 1939, lot 13
Thomas Olsen (purchased at the above sale)
Thence by descent to the present owner
Berlin, Fritz Gurlitt, 1914, no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue
Düsseldorf, Galerie Flechtheim, Edvard Munch, Ernst Barlach, 1914, no. 12
Zurich, Kunsthaus; Bern, Kunsthalle & Basel, Kunsthalle, Edvard Munch in Züricher Kunsthaus, 1922, no. 21
Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Edvard Munch. Der Lebensfries für Max Reinhardts Kammerspiele, 1978, no. 32, illustrated in the catalogue
Kiel, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Edvard Munch. Gemälde und Zeichnungen aus einer norwegischen Privatsammlung, 1979, no. 9, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung; Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle & Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Munch und Deutschland, 1994-95, no. 41
Oslo, Munch-museet, Edvard Munchs sene livsfrise og Lindefrisen, 1998, no. 3
Lübeck, Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Edvard Munch und Lübeck, 2003, no. 47, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Berliner Börsen Courir, Berlin, 20th January 1906
Curt Glaser, Edvard Munch, 1922, illustrated p. 20
Arne Eggum, Edvard Munchs Linde-Fries, Oslo, 1972, no. 3, illustrated
Kunst in Deutschland 1905-1935, die verlorene Sammlung der Nationalgalerie (exhibition catalogue), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1992, p. 171
Edvard Munch – Theme and Variation (exhibition catalogue), Graphiche Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, 2003, no. 4, illustrated in colour p. 173
Munch began working on Summer Day in 1903, as part of a major commission by Dr Max Linde, for his children’s nursery room at their family home at Lübeck. Linde (1862-1940) was an ophthalmologist and one of Munch’s devoted patrons. The artist first met Linde in 1902, and later that year was commissioned to produce graphic work for the Linde Portfolio of etchings of his house and garden and the members of his family. In 1903 Linde published a book Edvard Munch und die Kunst der Zukunft and, alongside Gustav Schiefler, was to become the artist’s main supporter in Germany. Munch enjoyed his stays at Linde’s house, which he visited on several occasions, and on 14th December 1904 he wrote to his aunt: ‘Here in Lübeck I live very well quietly working, no Norwegians – I have painted a large self-portrait, and I think I could do a lot of painting here – Dr Linde’s house is an excellent place to stay’ (quoted in Iris Müller-Westermann, Munch by Himself, London, 2005, p. 78).
Depicting a young couple and several groupings of people along the shore and in a boat, Summer Day has elements of innocence and joy that are rarely found in Munch’s works of this period. His portraits from this time usually depict tormented, angst-ridden individuals, and the same sense of anxiety of the human condition is present in his landscapes. The joyful atmosphere of Linde’s home certainly had a positive influence on the artist’s state of mind, and it was probably only while staying with his family that Munch executed works of a more optimistic character. It was during his stay in Lübeck in 1904 that he painted some of his major works, including a monumental portrait of his patron and a self-portrait, both relatively formal full-length portraits conveying an air of poise and self-assurance.
The idea of the Linde Frieze was based on Munch’s earlier Frieze of Life, the greatest achievement of his career, exhibited at the Berlin Secession in 1902. Like its precedessor, the Linde Frieze depicts various episodes of life taking place along the beach of Åsgårdstrand. When the work was finished, however, Linde rejected it, judging its subject matter unsuitable for children. Instead of the Frieze, Dr Linde commissioned from Munch a number of paintings of his wife and children. The present work remained in the artist’s possession for some time, and he later returned to it to rework some of its elements.
The theme of the embracing couple, dominating the foreground of Summer Day, appeared throughout Munch’s œuvre (fig. 2). However, rather than depicting the lovers in a joyful union, Munch often rendered them with an air of fear or restraint. As Dieter Buchhart observed: ‘Munch opposed the notion of the complete union of the genders with images of rift between them in Studenterlunden shortly before the turn of the century and in the painting Lovers in the Park [fig. 1] from the Linde Frieze. In these works, he used uniform contours to create forms of couples which are abstracted into organically united masses in the background but whose inner cohesion is negated by the color contrasts – the woman in white and the man in a dark color […] In a later revision of Summer Day, another painting in the Linde Frieze, Munch added a couple in the foreground. The woman’s head is turned slightly away from the man, and she appears to draw away from the union of the kiss, although the transparency of the couple against the background could also be read as a recollection of the past in the sense of a mental image of a bygone event’ (D. Buchhart in Edvard Munch – Theme and Variation (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 173). With her skull-like physiognomy and a fearful expression, the girl evokes the same sense of anxiety terror that Munch famously depicted in The Scream (fig. 3).
Munch’s landscapes of this period had a strong influence on German Expressionist artists, who had the opportunity to see his paintings in several exhibitions in Germany between 1905 and 1908. The brilliant, wild palette that dominated Munch’s canvases had a powerful impact on the Brücke artists who were eager to move away from their urban surroundings in Berlin and other cities, and to embrace the more ‘primitive’ life-style and wild nature of the northern German coast. It was the daring, expressive power of Munch’s landscapes, pulsating with undulating lines and vivid, dramatic brush-strokes, that had such a profound effect on some of the major figures of twentieth century art including Kirchner, Schmidt-Rottluff, Pechstein and Heckel.
Fig. 1, Edvard Munch, Lovers in the Park (Linde Frieze), 1904, oil on canvas, Munch-museet, Oslo
Fig. 2, Edvard Munch, Kiss on the Beach, circa 1914, oil on canvas, Munch-museet, Oslo
Fig. 3, Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893, oil and pastel on board, Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo