Rue Lafayette

  • Artist: Edvard Munch
  • Creation date: 1891
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 053 The Collection Exhibition - To Paris


In 1889, when Munch received a bursary from the Norwegian state, he went to Paris, where he familiarised himself with the period’s contemporary painters. The big city and modern life. Rhythm, pulse and movement.

In the second half of the 19th century, Paris underwent major changes in its urban planning. Old buildings and districts were torn down to make way for long, broad, straight avenues and boulevards. These rapidly became part of the city’s visual identity and a popular subject for many of the period’s most influential artists, who were interested in depicting life in the modern metropolis.

The vantage point, the dramatic perspective and the diffuse form in this picture owe a lot to impressionist painting. The paint is applied in rhythmical, speckled and slanting strokes creating a radiant, vibrant overall effect. Here Munch has combined a punctual brushstroke with a concise style that points beyond the subject matter that is actually registered.

In spring 1891, Munch occupied rooms at Rue Lafayette no. 49. Presumably it is the view from his own rooms that he has taken as the basis for this painting. To the left we glimpse the Rue Drouot and the Rue Faubourg-Montmartre. The impression of bustling, pulsating life out on the street is offset by the sombre figure on the balcony. The painting shows Munch’s strong interest in impressionism during this period. It remained, however, an interlude, and in the years that followed he preferred to explore other directions.

The picture was purchased for the National Gallery in 1933 with funds donated by Olaf Schou.

Text: Øystein Ustvedt

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.

Depicted place

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Rue Lafayette (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Height: 92 cm
  • Width: 73 cm
Motif - type:
Motif - location:
Production place:
Purchased with funds from Olaf Schous gift 1933
Inventory no.:
Part of exhibition:
La ville moderne en Europe. Visions urbaines d'artistes et d'architectes 1870-1996, 1996
Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety and Myth, 2009
Munch og Frankrike, 1992
Livets dans. Samlingen fra antikken til 1950, 2011 - 2019
Edvard Munchs utställning, 1894
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1893
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1893
Edvard Munchs maleriudstilling, 1892
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1954
Impresjonismen 100 år, 1974 - 1975
Edvard Munch, 1965 - 1966
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1974
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1973
Edvard Munch, 1983 - 1984
Munch - Van Gogh, 2015 - 2016
Impressionismen och Norden. Det sena 1800-talets franska avantgardekonst och konsten i norden 1870-1920, 2002 - 2003
Edvard Munch. The modern life of the soul, 2006
Munch et la France, 1991 - 1992
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1892
Eduard Munch's samlede arbejder, 1893
Fyns Stiftsmuseums Edvard Munch udstilling, 1955
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1955
Edvard Munch, 1958
Edvard Munch, 1987 - 1988
Kunstforeningens Edvard Munch udstilling, 1955
Munch - Van Gogh, 2015
Munch 150, 2013
Impressionismen og Norden. Fransk avantgarde i det sene 1800-tal og kunsten i Norden 1870-1920, 2003
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1892
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1892
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1893
Edvard Munch, 1927
Edvard Munch. Wiener Festwochen, 1959
Munch in Frankreich, 1992
Munch blir «Munch» . Kunstneriske strategier 1880-1892, 2008 - 2009
Sonderausstellung des Malers Eduard Munch, 1892 - 1893
Edvard Munch 1863-1944, 1974
Edvard Munch, 1968
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre