The Brooch. Eva Mudocci
- Artist: Edvard Munch
- Creation date: 1903 (plate)
- Object type: Graphic arts
One of Munch’s most beautiful and highly praised female figures. Eva Mudocci (Rose Lynton, prob. 1883-1953) was a young, gifted violinist whom Munch got to know in 1902. Together with the pianist Bella Edwards, she toured Europe giving concerts that brought her renown and acclaim. In the lithograph, Mudocci is depicted half-length and from a low angle. Her loose dark hair flows freely around her pale face. Her gaze is lowered and turned to one side, towards something beyond the frame and invisible to the viewer. Focal to the picture is her brooch, which creates a fine balance in the composition and enhances her enigmatic gaze. What does it mean to her? What is she thinking about? Mudocci appears in two other works Munch finished in the same year: Violin Concert and Salome.
There are certain similarities between the figure in The Brooch and Munch’s famous Madonna. Earlier, this lithograph itself bore that title. Here the erotic dimension is considerably toned down and the figure shows more individual and thoughtful traits. The work demonstrates how Munch was gradually mastering the expressive potential of the lithographic medium. The undulating lines have a lot in common with the leisurely brushstrokes that characterise so many of Munch’s paintings. With its simple contrasts and subtle visual effects this is a highlight among Munch’s graphic works.
The work was bequeathed to the National Gallery by Hans Aas in 1947.
Born 1863 in Løten, Hedmark, death 1944 in Oslo
Edvard Munch worked as an artist for over sixty years. He was creative, ambitious and hardworking. He produced nearly two thousand paintings, hundreds of graphic motifs and thousands of drawings. In addition, he wrote poems, prose and diaries. The Scream, Madonna, Death in the Sickroom and the other symbolist works from the 1890s have made him one of the most famous artists of our time.
"Don't become an artist!"
Edvard wanted to become an artist early on, and there was no doubt that he had talent. But his father refused to allow him to follow his dream, so Edvard began studying engineering. But already after one year he chose to defy his father, and switched from engineering college to the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry in Kristiania, now Oslo.
A talented and provocative bohemian
It was obvious to everyone in the Norwegian art community that the young man showed rare talent. In 1883, at the age of 20, he debuted at Høstutstillingen (The Autumn Exhibition). In 1886, Munch became acquainted with author and anarchist Hans Jæger, a leading figure in the Kristiania bohemian community. The bohemian community convinced Munch that the arts had to renew themselves to reach people and to have relevance in their lives. In the same year he exhibited the painting The Sick Child. This generated debate!
Courage led to breakthrough
Some acclaimed The Sick Child a work of genius, while others deemed it unfinished and unworthy of exhibition. Today it is considered to mark Munch's breakthrough. It was here that demonstrated the independence and willingness to break fresh ground.
From this point until his final brush strokes, his artistic practice can be summed up in just word: experimentation. Munch did not care about established "rules" for so-called good art. His techniques in both painting and graphics were innovative.
From people's emotional life to agriculture and landscape
Henrik Ibsen's plays about humanity's existential challenges inspired Munch. Themes such as death, love, sexuality, jealousy and anxiety were central to his early images. Some themes sprang from personal experience. For example, Death in the Sickroom and The Sick Child are linked to his memory of his mother and sister's illnesses and early deaths.
After 1910, Munch chose a quieter and secluded life. At his own farms at Ekely in Oslo and in Hvitsten, he found entirely new motifs, such as agriculture, working life and landscapes. Man in the Cabbage Field is a typical example from this period.