Inger in Black and Violet

  • Artist: Edvard Munch
  • Creation date: 1892
  • Object type: Painting


In the portrait of Edvard Munch’s sister Inger we see a young woman standing face on, erect and monumental. Her expression is controlled yet guarded, her posture constrained, her gaze thoughtful and introverted. Her hands are folded and her hair is tied back away from her pale face. The impression of chaste modesty is reinforced by the high black collar of her dress, tightly clasping her neck.

Inger Munch stands in front of a cool blue-grey wall that seems to form a vacuum around her, thus underlining the impression of isolation. At the same time the colour of the floor on which she is standing is warm and earthy. This surprising colour contrast creates a complex statement that alternates between the ethereal and the earthbound.

Edvard Munch is well known for the psychological depth he gives to personal characteristics. This portrait of his sister is one of his first monumental full-length portraits. Here he follows a long art historical tradition. In his portraits, Munch concentrates on the essential element of the model. He often places his figures against empty or only very sparsely furnished rooms, allowing their personality to be conveyed by their posture, eyes, face and hands, together with the expressive qualities of the colours employed.

This picture was purchased for the National Gallery in 1899.

Text: Nina Denney Ness

From "Edvard Munch in the National Museum", Nasjonalmuseet 2008, ISBN 978-82-8154-035-54


Edvard Munch

Visual artist, Painter, Graphic artist, Photographer, Drawing artist

Born 12.12.1863 in Løten, Hedmark, death 23.01.1944 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.

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Inger i svart og fiolett (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Width: 122.5 cm
  • Height: 172.5 cm
Motif - type:
Purchased 1899
Inventory no.:
Part of exhibition:
Edvard Munchs maleriudstilling, 1892
Munch og Frankrike, 1992
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1973
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1974
Edvard Munch, 1983 - 1984
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1954
Edvard Munch, 1970
Livets dans. Samlingen fra antikken til 1950, 2011 - 2019
Munch - Van Gogh, 2015 - 2016
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1952
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Fyns Stiftsmuseums Edvard Munch udstilling, 1955
Edvard Munch, 1970
Edvard Munch. The modern life of the soul, 2006
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1955
Munch et la France, 1991 - 1992
Dreams of a summer night. Scandinavian painting at the turn of the century, 1986
Höjdpunkter i norsk konst, 1968
Im Lichte des Nordens. Skandinavische Malerei um die Jahrhundertwende, 1986 - 1987
Edvard Munch, 1927
Kunstforeningens Edvard Munch udstilling, 1955
Post-impressionism. Cross-currents in European painting 1880-1906, 1979 - 1980
Munch 150, 2013
Edvard Munch, 1927
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Edvard Munch, 1970
Edvard Munch, 1971
Lumières du Nord, La peinture scandinave, 1987
La biennale di Venezia, 1954
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951 - 1952
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Munch in Frankreich, 1992
Munch blir «Munch» . Kunstneriske strategier 1880-1892, 2008 - 2009
Nordiske stemninger. Nordisk maleri ved århundreskiftet, 1987
Post-Impressionism. Cross-currents in European painting 1880-1906, 1980
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1974
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre