Self Portrait (in Distress) 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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The Self Portrait (In Distress) was a painting of Edvard Munch that was created in 1919. The image was a self-portrait of the artists that depicted him standing in one of the rooms.

He wears a black suit and a white shirt. Behind him is a table with a few items that fill the entire place. There is also a chair beside it that is full of clothing. Additionally, a table to his left that is also full of clothing. The painting shows some depth, such as the room in the background and a door to the room on the left. From the look of the face, the subject looks distressed, just as the title of the image suggests. He crunches to the lapel of his coat and looks down as if deep in thought. His legs also stand apart, which gives an impression of some form of indecisiveness.

At this point in his life, Edvard was a successful painter, having done several reputable works and generally well-received by the general population. However, he was still dogged by his painful past, where he had lost almost his entire family; mum, father and sister. From time to time, there was a feeling of hopelessness that engulfed him. It also transcended to his works of art that showed the darker side of humanity.

This portrait was taken at some point in life when he was at his lowest. Although it is not clear if there were other disturbing issues, he was not a happy man. Nevertheless, the image is meticulously detailed. It not only depicts the sorry state of his mind but also how unkempt the home was. This gives readers a more in-depth look at his life in general and the personal struggles that he had to endure. This painting combines a mix of portrait painting and expressionism. Edvard had painted other portraits before this and after, including his own image, Inger Munch and Madonna, among others.

Each of the portraits showed more than the face. In most cases, it was the full body of the subject in question. The Expressionism style comes into play with how he brings forth the emotions of the subject in the painting. Unlike most portraits that just show a face with a blank stare, his painting shows a man deep in thought. Expressionism was the leading artistic style at the time where artists showed emotions or reactions to their environments. They also made use of colour to show mood and the mental status of the subject. Besides, they used colours to show depth and other objects in the space. This painting is available at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.