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Moonlight

One of Edvard Munch’s first large color woodcuts, this work was printed in two, three, four, or five colors (as seen in this example). The slightly off-register “jigsaw aesthetic” suggests that it was printed by the artist himself. Its large flat planes of color reflect the influence of Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Munch’s own innovative use of wood grain, variable printing technique, and roughly carved surfaces proved influential on Expressionist artists. Like many of Munch’s prints, the composition was adapted from an earlier work—an 1893 painting of a woman (perhaps based on his first lover, Mrs. Heiberg) shown nearly full length in front of a picket fence. While the figure in the print is truncated, both works emphasize a feeling of isolation and melancholy, which the artist associated with a third phase of womanhood: an unhappy, abandoned, self-sacrificing victim (a mature woman in black).

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes two other prints by Munch that focus on different phases of womanhood: Summer Night (The Voice) (Eskenazi Museum of Art 72.136) and The Sin II (Nude Figure) (Eskenazi Museum of Art 75.86).

Edvard Munch
Norwegian, 1863–1944
Moonlight
1896
Color woodcut on paper
Image: 16 1/8 x 18 11/16 in. (41.0 x 47.5 cm), sheet: 17 x 19 15/16 in. (43.2 x 50.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 73.27.2