Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu

  • Artist: Edvard Munch
  • Creation date: 1919
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 060 The Collection Exhibition - Edvard Munch


Text: nmk

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:
Selvportrett i spanskesyken (NOR)
Autoritratto con febbre spagnola (ITA)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Height: 150 cm
  • Width: 131 cm
Motif - type:
Gift from Charlotte and Christian Mustad 1937
Inventory no.:
Part of exhibition:
Exhibition, 2007 - 2011
Visions du nord. Lumière du monde, lumière du ciel, 1998
Edvard Munch. Det moderne øye, 2012 - 2013
Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, 2017
Arte Nordica Contemporanea, 1955
Edvard Munch in Zürcher Kunsthaus, 1922
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1922
Jubileumsutställning - Nordisk Konst, 1923
Edvard Munch, 1951
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1954
Edvard Munch. Peintures, oeuvre gravé, 1952
Edvard Munch, 1951
Jubileumsutstilling 1814–1964, 1964
Edvard Munch, 1952
Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, 2018
Edvard Munch. Der moderne Blick, 2013
Edvard Munch. The Modern Eye, 2012
Expressive!, 2003
Edvard Munch. L’ Œil Moderne, 2011 - 2012
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1952
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1955
Edvard Munch, 1950
Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, 2017 - 2018
Edvard Munch. Dal realismo all’espressionismo, 1999 - 2000
Edvard Munch, 1927
Edvard Munch, 1919
Edvard Munch, 1951
Edvard Munch, 1950
Munch 1863-1944, 2005
Munch 150, 2013
La biennale di Venezia, 1954
Edvard Munch, 1927
Edvard Munch, 1951
Edvard Munch, 1950
Edvard Munch, 1950
Edvard Munch, 1950
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Ausstellung Edvard Munch, 1922
Grønningen 1934, 1934
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951
Edvard Munch: An Exhibition of Paintings, Etchings, Litographs, 1951 - 1952
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre/Lathion, Jacques