European Painting before 1900, Johnson Collection
MermaidMade in Paris, France, Europe
Edvard Munch, Norwegian, 1863 - 1944
Oil on canvas
2003-1-1Gift of Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2003
LabelEdvard Munch painted Mermaid during an extended stay in Paris in 1896-97, upon receiving a commission for a large-scale decorative work from Axel Heiberg, a Norwegian industrialist. This striking image of a mermaid in the process of transforming into a woman reflects the artist's interest in Symbolism (an artistic and literary movement aimed at eliciting emotional responses from the viewer or reader) and in the themes of metamorphosis, desire, and anxiety. Munch devised the picture's unique trapezoidal format in response to Heiberg's intention to hang the mural just below the sloping rafters of a stair hall in his home in Lysaker, Norway.
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