Self Portrait with Brushes 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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This self-portrait by Edvard Munch was painted, as an oil on canvas, while he was staying in Lubeck with his friend, the optician, Max Linde. Painted in 1904, the portrait reflects the style and pose previously seen in a portrait of Max Linde painted by Munch in the early part of 1904.

The Linde portrait can be viewed at the Moritzburg Museum (Halle) in Germany. While staying with, and being encouraged by Max Linde, Munch made his living as a portrait painter and during 1904-5 created a number of portraits featuring himself, Linde, Ellen Warburg, Ludvig Karsten, Hanni and Herbert Esche. Munch's portraits mostly featured an abstract background painted with simple brushstrokes. In the Self Portrait with Brushes, the artist depicts himself dressed in his work clothes. The artist is depicted wearing a high-collar shirt, pullover and suit trousers.

The outfit is completed with a black knee length coat, presumably worn to protect the clothes from any paint splashes while working. The generally dark shades of the clothing worn by Munch in his self-portrait are contrasted by the brighter colours of the paint on the brushes clutched in the artist's right hand and placed across the front of his body. During this period of portrait painting, Munch was able to experience a period of financial stability that was often missing during other periods of his life.The canvas pf Self Portrait with Brushes is approximately 200 centimetres by 90 centimetres.

Max Linde was an Ophthalmologist whose appreciation of contemporary art led to his patronage and encouragement of Edvard Munch. Linde could see the potential in the Norwegian artist, he had two brothers who were artists and commissioned a number of paintings from Munch featuring himself and members of his family. Due to Linde's encouragement and friendship Munch was able to develop into one of the most prominent artists of the period. The work Self Portrait with Brushes reflects the development of the Norwegian artist as a portrait painter and includes many references to an earlier portrait which Munch painted of his mentor, Linde. Munch's Self Portrait with Brushes can be seen at the museum dedicated to the Norwegian artist's work in the city of Oslo. The artist bequeathed his collection of around 28,000 items of his work to the museum upon his death in 1944. The museum will move to a new, custom-built, location on the Oslo waterfront in the Spring of 2021.