Edvard Munch and The Suns (1910-16)

Edvard Munch, The Sun 1910-1911  (The Oslo University Mural) (image via Wikiart.org)

Good Morning!

Once again my own questions about a simple painting post has led me down a path not anticipated. Because I found so many discrepancies and variations in paintings labelled ‘The Sun by Edvard Munch’,  I decided to find out how many Munch Suns are out there. As usual, the more I read, the more I wanted to know.  A few of my notes and sources follow.

Who is Edvard Munch?

Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of the main tenets of late 19th-century Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century.  Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org

Why So Many Suns?

According to this List of paintings by Edvard Munch, I count ten different paintings titled ‘The Sun’ produced between 1910 and 1916. In this post I will focus primarily on The Sun, 1910-1911 painted for the Oslo University Mural. As I find so often is the case, this story is effectively told in video.

Munch and the Aula

Video 1: Edvard Munch and the Aula decorations

“In this digital story, Edvard Munch himself describes his thoughts, ideas and wishes during years of work with the decoration of the University Hall in Oslo.” Munch Museum, Oslo

When Strauss Visited the Aula

Video 2: Richard Strauss at University Aula in 1917

“In the cold days of March 1917, the leading German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949), visited Kristiania, as Oslo then was called. The painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) met him personally and describes their meeting in his memoirs. Strauss held a concert in the University Aula, which was newly decorated with Munch’s monumental paintings “The Sun”, “The History” and “Alma Mater”.”  Munch Museum, Oslo

This Mural Is Enormous!


Go to Klimt’s Kiss and Haydn’s Cello Concerto to see “The Sun” and Norwegian Chamber Orchestra in live performance on this stage.

No wonder Strauss had such a reaction!

A Closer Look at the Aula Sun

“Illuminated by the sun rays are the water of the ocean, the bare rocks of a Northern landscape, and a slim strip of verdant green that separated land and sea. A clean, straight horizon line divides the waters from sky. The great sun is all-pervasive, shinning from the heavens upon land and sea, its rays reaching out to all eternity. Inhuman itself, it is the source of all life.”  Edvard Munch: Paintings, Biography, and Quotes

Click for Enlarged Detail

Other Munch Suns

Now I understand why the internet is full of various versions of Munch’s Suns. Apparently he returned to this motif many times over a period of years, ultimately including an enormous Sun as the centerpiece in the mural decorations of the festival hall of the University of Kristiania (Oslo) to celebrate its centennial in 1911. Below are images of the other Suns available, each unique and all beautful.

Version 2

(Arbitrarily labelled for this post)

Version 2, Edvard Munch, The Sun, 1910-1011, via Google Arts and Culture The Sun 1910-1911

The Sun. 1910–11.  Via Munch Museum, Oslo

  • Title: The Sun
  • Date Created: 1910/1911
  • Physical Dimensions: w7720 x h4500 mm
  • Painter: Edvard Munch
  • Type: Painting

Version 3

Version 3: Edvard Munch, The Sun, 1912-1913, found at Munch Museum

The Sun 1912-13, Munch Museum, oil on canvas

“The Munch Museum holds many of the preparatory works for The Sun in the Aula of Oslo University in its collection. The life-giving and powerful aspects of the sun are recreated in Edvard Munch’s manipulation of brush and paint. The eye of the observer is drawn towards the sun as if through a shaft of light, while the spectrum of colours emanating from the sun splash outwards. The sun becomes the emblem of Munch’s new nature worship after recovering from his breakdown in 1908.” Munch Museum

Version 4

Version 4: Edvard Munch: “Solen” (The Sun), 1910-13 found http://s0irenic.tumblr.com/image/166400131171

Stay tuned for a follow-up post about four different versions of Munch’s Suns.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The End


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Amazing and your giving me ideas;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love ideas – can’t wait to see!! 🙂


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