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Edvard Munch

On the bridge

hand coloured lithograph on laid paper
1912/13
40 x 53 cm image / 48,2 x 64,5 cm sheet / 15 3/4 x 20 7/8 in
signed lower right

The lithograph “On the Bridge” of 1912/13 is a variation on a motif that Munch had first explored in the summer of 1901 in a painting now held at the National Gallery, Oslo. The subject is one of the most significant and memorable of the artist’s motifs. The five women chatting in a group are symbols of youth and early adolescence. They are depicted on the pier at Åsgårdstrand, the village on the shores of the Oslofjord. The house in the background is the house of the Kiosterud family with the white garden fence and the linden trees grown tightly around. This shoreline featured prominently in his early work, including prints such as Attraction I, 1896 and Melancholy II, 1898. In these, as in the present work, the landscape and architecture, especially the steep perspective of the bridge and ist railing play a dynamic role equal to the human presence. In his painted oeuvre, Munch revisited the theme of the girls on the bridge seven times, each time modulating the scene, turning the figures to face the viewer, adding further characters in conversational groups as he did in the present work, and allowing the girls to age with the passing years. In his printed work, the motif reappears in woodcuts and lithographs until 1935, showing different versions in composition and colouring. The present example of this lithograph is particularly interesting as Munch coloured the print by hand, turning it to a singular piece.

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