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Moonlight (Mondschein)

Edvard Munch

European Art

Paul Gauguin and an artist he influenced, Edvard Munch, were among the late nineteenth-century artists attracted to the formal and emotive possibilities of woodcut. For this print—only his second in the medium—Munch developed a complex and innovative technique. Rather than prepare a separate block for each color, he cut the block into pieces that were individually inked for local areas of color and then, like a jigsaw puzzle, reassembled for printing. He usually created one block for the main figure and another for the background. With his rough carving, flattened pictorial space, and emphasis on the materiality of the wood itself—scraped to reveal the natural grain when printed—Munch was an important influence for early twentieth-century artists who embraced woodcut as one of the key mediums of Expressionism.

Munch adapted this melancholy composition from one of his earlier paintings of a woman, perhaps his first love, with whom he had a brief, unhappy affair.
MEDIUM Color woodcut on laid paper
DATES 1896
DIMENSIONS image: 15 15/16 × 18 1/2 in. (40.5 × 47 cm) sheet: 18 13/16 × 22 7/8 in. (47.8 × 58.1 cm)
INSCRIPTIONS Notation in artist's hand (recto). Probably the artist's proof.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund
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