Collections and research

Edvard Munch in the National Museum

Separation II, 1896

Lithograph printed in blue, 410 x 610 mm
NG.K&H.A.19030, (GW 78)

© Nasjonalmuseet / Munch-museet / Munch-Ellingsen-gruppen / BONO 2010.
Foto: Jacques Lathion / Nasjonalmuseet

The blue used to print this lithograph reinforces the melancholy mood of the subject. With his eyes closed and his head bowed, the pale-faced man appears introverted and passive. The woman, who has turned away from him and is looking out to sea, is in the process of leaving the man, while the wind blows her long hair back towards his chest. In contrast to the darkness of the man, the woman is paler. The contrast between them is further emphasised by the drawing technique, the emphatic and energetic use of the lithographic tool in the depiction of the man, while a looser and more sensitive line is used for the female profile.

The motif may be interpreted as related to a separation experienced by the artist himself, and alluded to in his notes: “But even once she has vanished across the sea he feels / That delicate single threads are stuck fast in his heart / – it bleeds – and smarts like an eternally open wound.”

Separation II exists as a single-colour print, both with and without colouring, but also as a multi-coloured print. There are two lithographic versions of the separation motif – both from 1896. The version we have here concentrates on the heads of the couple. The motif is also rendered in a painting from 1893 and in another from 1896. In addition there are several sketches with related motifs from the years 1895 and 1896.

It is unclear when the National Gallery acquired this lithograph.

MT