Lot 72
  • 72

Edvard Munch

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • Edvard Munch
  • Kragerø om våren (Kragerø in Spring)
  • Signed E. Munch and dated 1929 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 38 3/4 by 37 1/2 in.
  • 98.4 by 95.3 cm


Anders M. Vik, Norway (possibly acquired from the artist)

Private Collection, Scandinavia (by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, London, June 25, 2002, lot 32)

Private Collection, United States (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 19, 2012, lot 7)

Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


Zurich, Kunsthaus, Edvard Munch, Paul Gauguin, 1932, no. 39


Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch, Complete Paintings, Catalogue Raisonné 1898-1908, vol. IV, London, 2009, no. 1655, illustrated in color p. 1492


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In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Kragerø in Spring, painted in 1929, epitomizes Munch's lifelong fascination with landscapes, one of the central subjects and key symbols of his work. Just as the German Expressionist artists often ventured away from the city to the Baltic coast, Munch painted many of his major works on the Norwegian coastlines. In May 1909 the artist first visited Kragerø, a town in the rural Telemark region on the southern coast of Norway, in order to recover from a nervous breakdown. He rented a property in Kragerø and set up a large open-air studio, inspired by the surrounding gardens, woods and rocky coastline. Munch had traveled widely in Europe, making extended visits to Berlin, Paris and Hamburg, but often returned to Kragerø. He painted some of his finest landscapes there, characterized by his expressive winding line and strong, vivid colors.

The landscape along the coastline provided the backdrop to many of Munch's compositions. Occupying a special place in the artist's world and his memories, it served as a stage on which, in Munch's own words, "life is played out in all its variety, with its joys and sorrows." In a retrospective note, probably dating from the end of the 1920s, Munch wrote the following about his calling as an artist: "In my art I have tried to explain my life and sought clarity about the path of life. It has seemed to me that this might also help others to a clarity regarding their own lives" (quoted in Gerd Woll, op. cit., vol. I, p. 28).

Munch himself considered the 1920s as some of the most productive years of his career. His emphasis during this time transitioned from the interior scenes with narrative to outdoor scenes that embraced a new sense of abstraction and liberated color. This shift of focus, however did not signify a departure from his earlier obsession with tormented, angst-ridden individuals. On the contrary, it was precisely this emotional and mental instability of his earlier years that gave the artist the insight to produce such expressive compositions as the present work, in which he reached a certain level of abstraction, expressing the joys and anxieties of the human condition through the pictorial elements of color and form.

Alongside Van Gogh, Munch was the key pioneer of Expressionism whose influence on modern art cannot be overstated. Both artists make use of the landscape as a vehicle to express inner states of being. The expressive use of contrast and form in the present work serves not only to render a certain atmosphere, but also to convey a particular mood. In depicting nature in such a highly individual manner, Munch draws on the tradition of stemningsmaleri, or 'mood-painting', characteristic of Nordic art towards the end of the 19th century. Alongside his fellow Norwegian artists such as Sohlberg and Egedius, Munch abandoned the plein-air naturalism which had dominated Norwegian landscape painting in favor of a resonant vision of nature.

The artist himself proclaimed about his personal, expressive use of color: "One must paint from memory. Nature is merely the means. They want the painter to transmit information simply as if he were the camera. Whether or not a painting looks like that landscape is beside the point. Explaining a picture is impossible. The very reason it has been painted is because it cannot be explained any other way....If one wishes to paint that first pale blue morning atmosphere that made such an impression, one cannot simply sit down, start at each object and paint them exactly as one sees them. They must be painted as they were when that motif made such a vivid impression" (quoted in Sue Prideaux, Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream, London, 2005, p. 201).