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Landscapes: Real and Imagined

Discover groundbreaking techniques in early modern landscape paintings.

Modern Landscapes

Discover groundbreaking techniques in early modern landscape paintings.

Melancholy III (Melankoli III)

Edvard Munch
(Norwegian, 1863–1944)

1902. Woodcut, composition: 15 x 19 1/8" (38.1 x 48.6 cm); sheet: 18 7/16 x 23 3/4" (46.8 x 60.4 cm)

“The modern life of the soul” was Munch’s own term for the emotional turmoil he attempted to capture in his work. Melancholy: Evening on the Shore is a woodcut that expresses Munch’s belief that working in an expressive mode and capturing emotion was more important than making realistic images of the world. He wrote, “Nature is not something that can be seen by the eye alone—it lies also within the soul, in pictures seen by the inner eye.” In Munch’s landscape, the drama of the contemplative, brooding figure in the foreground is as essential as the natural scenery.

A term loosely applied to any printmaking technique involving a relief image cut into the surface of a wooden block. The wood is covered with ink and applied to a sheet of paper; only the uncut areas of the block will print, while the cut away areas do not receive ink and appear white on the printed image.

Modern can mean related to current times, but it can also indicate a relationship to a particular set of ideas that, at the time of their development, were new or even experimental.

The natural landforms of a region; also, an image that has natural scenery as its primary focus.

The area of an image—usually a photograph, drawing, or painting—that appears closest to the viewer.

Variations of Melancholy
For financial reasons, Munch learned to print, creating his first woodcuts and lithographs in 1896. He mastered an innovative technique in which he used wood grain to emphasize the composition’s lines. Munch created a series of similar woodcuts and paintings using this technique: in Evening. Melancholy I (1896), the figure sits facing the opposite direction, with a red sky imposing overhead. A later version of the same woodcut, Melancholy III (1901) introduces brilliant blue into the composition. An earlier painting, Melancholy (1891), expresses the same theme.