EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
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EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)

Vampyr II

EDVARD MUNCH (1863-1944)
Vampyr II
lithograph and woodcut in colours
on thin laid Japan paper
signed 'E Munch' in pencil (lower right margin)
a superb impression of Woll's sixth variant (of ten), with strong contrasts and rich colours
the lithograph keystone printed in black, the second stone in red, and the sawn woodblock in blue, green and ochre
printed by M. W. Lassally, Berlin, between 1902 and 1914
Image 380 x 555 mm.
Sheet 448 x 627 mm.
Norwegian Private Collection, Oslo.
Galleri K, Oslo; acquired from the above in 1985.
Wiktor Forss (B. 1939), London and Stockholm; acquired from the above in 1986.
Galleri K, Oslo; acquired from the above in 1990.
Sam Josefowitz; acquired from the above on 25 September 1990; thence by descent to the present owners.
G. Schiefler, Edvard Munch-Das graphische Werk 1906-1926, Berlin, 1974, no. 34, pp. 51 & 52 (another impression illustrated p. 158).
G. Woll, Edvard Munch-Complete Graphic Works, Oslo, 2012, no. 41, pp. 70-73 (another impression of this variant illustrated p. 71).

M.-H. Wood, ed., Edvard Munch, The Frieze of Life, exh. cat., London, 1993, no. 22, p. 70 (another impression illustrated).
E. Prelinger & M. Parke-Taylor, The Symbolist Prints of Edvard Munch – The Vivian and David Campbell Collection, exh. cat., Toronto, 1997, no. 48, pp. 105-111 (another impression of this variant illustrated p. 110).
G. Woll, Edvard Munch - A Genius of Printmaking, exh. cat., Zurich, 2013, no. 137, p. 185, (another impression of this variant illustrated).
D. Buchart & K.A. Schröder, eds., Edvard Munch, Love, Death, Loneliness, exh. cat., Vienna, 2016, no. 77, p. 145 (another impression of this variant illustrated).
J. Lloyd & R. Heller, Munch and Expressionism, exh. cat, New York, 2016, pp. 101 & 102 (another impression illustrated).
G. Bartrum, ed., Edvard Munch: love and angst, exh. cat., London, 2019, no. 37, p. 89 (another impression of this variant illustrated).
Sale room notice
Please see christies.com for the additional provenance for this lot.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Edvard Munch's Vampyr II is a tour de force of printmaking, regarded as one of the artist’s masterpieces in the medium. First executed in oil, he returned to the subject repeatedly, creating a total of ten different versions in paintings as well as print. The subject was part of Munch's so-called Frieze of Life, a series of archetypal paintings exploring the themes of angst, love, sex and death, including The Scream and Madonna. Munch began working on the cycle in the 1890s, but the motifs formulated then occupied him for his entire life.
The famous title was first suggested by Munch’s friend, the Polish poet-critic Stanislaw Przybyszewski, who saw an early painting of the subject in 1893 and described it as ‘A broken man and on his neck a biting vampire's face’ (S. Przybyszewski, Psychischer Naturalismus, 1894, reprinted in M-H. Wood. Edvard Munch, The Frieze of Life, London, 1993, p. 68). Munch, who had initially called it Love and Pain, later came to regret adopting Przybyszewski’s sensationalist interpretation, explaining ‘It was the time of Ibsen and if people were really bent on revelling in symbolist eeriness and called the idyll Vampire – why not’ (E. Munch quoted in S. Prideaux. Edvard Munch, Behind the Scream, London, 2005, p. 209). This suggests that the often cited association of Munch with the 19th century trope of the femme fatale is perhaps more complicated than it seems. As the artist Marlene Dumas eloquently states:
`Munch never married. He had affairs that did not last. Does that disqualify him from having painted the most touching kissing couples of the 20th century? Apart from Picasso, which modern artists even tried to paint the passions of kissing and crying? The frictions between love and lust? Picasso gives us sexual acts… Munch invites us to desire… The transformative sensations of attraction, of falling in love’ (M. Dumas quoted in P. Berman, ‘Munch’s influence on women artists’, RA Magazine, Autumn 2020).
Munch made two lithograph versions in 1895, Vampyr I and II, both printed in black, but in 1902 he reprised the image in colour. To create the present work he added an additional lithographic stone for the vivid red hair, and a woodblock, cut into sections with a fretsaw. Each section of the block was inked in a different colour, blue for the man's shirt, ochre for the skin tones, and green for the background, and run through the press simultaneously. Finally, the original lithographic keystone for Vampyr II was printed in black on top to complete the composition. Munch's approach to printmaking was experimental, and over the course of the next decade he created numerous versions or variants of Vampyr, reversing the printing order of the lithographic stones and woodblock, changing the palette, and even creating new matrices to replace damaged or lost ones. While each has its own distinct atmosphere, the dramatic variant of which this is a superb example, powerfully evokes the artist's ambivalence towards desire, one in which fear and passion are not mutually exclusive.

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