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Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
EDVARD MUNCH Gråtende Akt.
Lithograph on Japan paper, 1908. 276x114 mm; 10 7/8x4 1/2 inches, full margins. The deluxe edition of 15 on Japan paper, aside from the edition of 60 on wove paper. Signed in pencil, lower right. Printed by Dansk Reproduktionsanstalt, Copenhagen. A very good impression of this extremely scarce lithograph. .
Munch (1863-1944) reckoned with, and was occasionally overwhelmed by, the strength of the fundamental human emotions he explored in his oeuvre. Born to a deeply religious father in the stark landscape of Löten, Norway, his family suffered through frequent tragedy and illness; his mother and sister died within four years of each other from tuberculosis, another sister spent most of her life in a mental institution, and his brother passed away from pneumonia at the age of 30. As a weak child, he spent the long Norwegian winters inside, teaching himself to draw, and was entertained by his father who would read him the mysterious and macabre works of Edgar Allan Poe (1836-1847). The hardships Munch faced throughout his life and into his adulthood, coupled with his lonely and bleak childhood, undoubtedly lead to his attempts to comprehend and portray the depth of human emotion.
He decided to pursue painting in 1882, after studying architecture for three years at Kristiania Technical College. His first public exhibition (one painting and two drawings at the Kristiania Industry and Art Exhibition) was in 1883 and two years later he began work on several of his key works, including The Day After(1894-95), Puberty(1894) and The Sick Child(1883). He was also a prolific printmaker, having been introduced to graphic media in 1894. He worked in drypoint, etching, woodcut and lithography throughout his career, producing 850 compositions and nearly 30,000 impressions.
This lithograph depicts a figure Munch returned to often--the weeping woman. Here a nude woman stands, hair atop her head and her face obscured, her head hung with melancholy. The lithograph is part of the "Weeping Woman" series Munch created starting in 1907. Munch often reworked the same image multiple times, and this solitary figure appeared in no fewer than 6 paintings, a bronze sculpture, drawings and lithographs. While the "Weeping Woman" is often placed within a bedroom interior, here the woman stands nude and alone, seemingly out-of-doors, increasing her sense of isolation.
The series depicted a time of transformation for Munch, whose recent commission to carry out set designs affected his rendering of space towards stage-like compositions. This was also an intense time of personal struggle for Munch. He himself stated that, "Sickness, insanity and death were the angels that surrounded my cradle and they have followed me throughout my life." While he struggled with depression, anxiety and alcoholism for most of his life, in 1908 he suffered a breakdown, eventually checking himself in for 7 months of mental health treatment at the psychologist Dr. Daniel Jacobson's clinic in Copenhagen. The "Weeping Woman" series illustrates the internal struggle Munch fought throughout his life as well as his fascination with finding new ways to express the universal emotion of suffering. Schiefler 285; Woll 316.