Woman's Head against the Shore is an outstanding example of Munch's inventiveness in exploring the potential of the woodcut technique. The woodcut is printed from two wood blocks, each of which Munch cut in two parts with a fret saw, providing him with four separate sections which could then be inked individually. By 'puzzling' the two blocks back together and printing one on top of the other he was able to produce multi-coloured prints, at once separating the colours and layering them. Apart from this technical innovation, Munch in this print also made full use of a trait unique to the woodcut medium: rather than disguising or suppressing the natural grain of the wood, he even heightened this effect to lend with texture and transparency to the picture plane.
Not only is Woman's Head against the Shore a technical feat, it is also one of the most beautiful variations on a theme which haunted Munch and to which he would return again and again. Lonely figures - sometimes young couples - standing or sitting in quiet contemplation by the sea shore, populate Munch's graphic oeuvre and are the subject of some of his finest prints. The sea is of course a classic topos, a symbol for reflection and longing. For Munch however, to whom art was his biography and his therapy, it was much more than an artistic commonplace. Countless times Munch himself must have turned to the beach in his native Norway, lost in thought, melancholy or despair.
A sizable number of impressions in different states and colour variants are known, most of which are kept in the Munch Museum, Oslo, and in nine other public collections. However, impressions of this woodcut very rarely come to the market. Only four other examples have been offered at auction within the last 25 years.