Edvard Munch began the development of the Vampyre in works executed in various media in 1893. In this year he exhibited a painting of this subject in Berlin alongside a Madonna under the title of Love and Pain. Although with Munch's acceptance the subject soon became known as Vampyre, the artist stated that the subject was no more than a woman kissing a young man's neck.
The journalist and writer Adolph Paul recounted how his visit one day to the artist's studio resulted in his becomming part of this most important work, 'Kneel down in front of her!, he shouted. She bent over me and pressed her lips to my neck. Her red hair flowed over me. Munch painted and before long had completed his Vampyre.' (Adolph Paul, Edvard Munch und Berlin, in Berliner Tageblatt, 15 April 1927; translated, quoted in Carola Franke-Höltzermann, Edvard Munch Holzschnitte, Reutlingen, 1990).
The vampire or harpy motif was not, however, a mere depiction of a subject, but a reflection of the artist's inner struggle with women which would be an important theme in his works throughout his life. August Strindberg, in his review of the painting Vampyre under the title Red Hair in the Revue Blanche (June 1, 1896) wrote, 'A shower of gold falling on a despairing figure kneeling before his worse self and imploring the favor of being stabbed to death with her hairpin. Golden ropes binding him to earth and to suffering. Rains of blood falling in torrents over the madman in quest of unhappiness, the divine unhappiness of being loved, or rather of loving.' (quoted in P.W. Guenter, Edward Munch, Houston, 1976, p. 119)
Schiefler incorrectly records this print as a first state of the more commonly found Vampyre (Schiefler 34 II). However, this 'state' with the window at the upper right has been demonstrated by Gerd Woll to be an entirely different lithograph. It also differs from the second 'state' in its dimensions (see Gerd Woll, Edvard Munch, 1895, first year as a graphic artist, Oslo, 1995). The presence of the window lends the scene the intimacy of the room where the event took place. Both this impression and another in the Munch Museum (MM G567-72) are dedicated to the printer Liebmann in Berlin.
Three impressions of this print, one with handcolouring, are in the Munch Museum, Oslo; a further impression exists in a private collection. No other impressions of this print are known.