The Murderer in the Lane 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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Edvard Munch was an all-rounded talented artist. He mastered being a naturalist, symbolist and expressionist. Most of his art was inspired by his troubled life, mental trauma and illnesses.

Munch experienced a difficult life from a young age from losing his mother, getting ill during winter and being by himself. In 1919, Munch created a very disturbing oil and canvas painting. The Murderer in the Lane brings out a rather disturbing vision. The image shows a man's head facing the audience. His head is only visible from the shoulders upward, and a few metres behind, a body seems to lie in the middle of the lane. The trees in the surrounding look lifeless. Some buildings are visible in the far end, particularly a white one with a somewhat blue roof on the man's right side. The trees on his left side look thinner than the ones on his right.

Further analysing the painting, the audience can see that the murderer's facial complexion aligns with the lane while the victim's body lying can be mistaken for a fallen tree trunk. Munch gave this painting the perfect detail of the scenario. With the murderer's cropped frame, it is seen as if he was fleeing the scene. In the portrait, there is no trace of why or how the victim was murdered. Viewers can only see the murderer's face. It is not clear whether he is the actual murderer or just a passerby by just looking at it. However, the title that Munch gave this painting suggests that he, the cropped man, is the murderer. Apart from the corpse on the lane, life in the surrounding seems normal. The buildings in the background are a presumed factory, and the left side shows water beautifully flowing.

Regardless of this daytime murder, life goes on. The period from 1908 to 1921 was the most difficult one for Edvard. He had an acute break with reality, where he began seeing hallucinations and suffered feelings of persecution. He was on the verge of insanity, and this was quite troubling. Since he did The Murderer in the Lane in 1919, it provoked different reactions and feelings from his viewers who feared his illness. Later on, the artist began therapy, which involved controlling his diet and electrification. He stabilised his personality and scaled upwards financially and professionally as he was widely recognised and received many commissions. Edvard spent his last two decades in isolation painting. In 2001, the Norwegian expressionist and painter earned his photograph on the 1000 kroner note. His image is on the front while his work; The Sun is on the note’s backside.