The Fairytale Forest Edvard Munch Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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It may not be as famous as The Scream (1893), but Edvard Munch's The Fairytale Forest similarly showcased the Norwegian artist's supreme talent for creating works of art that captured the imagination and evoked an emotional response.

While the former may have captured the essence of fear and anxiety, The Fairytale Forest instead evokes a childlike wonder for what awaits beyond the horizon. Adults and children may in fact view this painting a little differently. For more world-worn adults, parents especially, perhaps they see six innocent kids about to head into a forest alone, in which unknown dangers could be lurking. But children tend to be less focused on this and more on the possible wonders that might lie ahead. The six kids standing in the centre of the portrait, gazing toward the golden-tinged forest and clouds overhead, seem a welcoming group that others would want to be a part of, eager to share in their adventure to come.

Like other great artists of his time, Edvard Munch could tell detailed stories through his paintings before movies fully developed their own mode of doing so; at this point, they were still in their infancy. The Fairytale Forest represents the kind of fantastical setting and imagery that one may have expected from something like The Chronicles of Narnia on screen. There are no dark colours utilised in this piece as Munch aimed to retain the innocent sense of wonder, instead relying on a yellowish golden hue provided by the sun's rays and a blue cloudy sky signifying a beautiful spring or early summer day.

Onlookers are just as likely to focus on the striking costumes worn by these young characters and be carried away by thoughts of who they are. The girl in the centre - presumably the oldest, as she holds the hands of her smaller friends/siblings - wears a red dress that stands out but is also complemented by the white and blue clothing worn on either side of her. All of these costumes and hats are reminiscent of the time period; they could instil a sense of appreciation among modern adults of how things used to be, when fashion sense seemed so much more simple. This is truly an artwork in which viewers may notice different aspects from their unique perspective, but one thing remains sure: they'll be caught up in its wondrous atmosphere regardless. Munch worked on this piece for some years in the early 1900s and it was eventually bequeathed to Norway's National Museum in 1950, where it has resided ever since.