Oil on canvas, 93 x 110 cm
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design - The National Gallery, Oslo. NG.M.02815
Easiest of all is to paint shorelines. Just let your hand glide. If I do not know what to paint, I paint landscape. Munch confided this to his friend and biographer Rolf Stenersen. Landscape subjects play an important role in Munch's art, as the background and setting for his human dramas but also in their own right. Soft, billowing shorelines recur, and form a powerful element of artistic expression. Moonlight is a major work among Munch's landscapes, and shows how far he could go in the direction of stylisation and simplification of nature's forms without the picture ceasing to be firmly anchored in observed or experienced reality. The light of a Nordic midsummer night fascinated many artists at that time, but Munch imbues the theme with distinctive intensity and depth of emotion. A few rigid, vertical tree trunks frame a serene view whose contemplative mood is interrupted only by the slight agitation of the undulating shoreline and the phallic reflection of the moon in the water.