Artwork Detail

Portrait of Irmgard Steinbart
Norwegian, 1863–1944
Oil on canvas
69 3/4 x 34 5/8 "
Gift of Morton J. May, 1968
WU 4392
One of the most influential artists of the turn of the twentieth century, Edvard Munch departed from conventions of realism through the dynamic compositions and affective palette of his paintings and prints. Many of his allegorical works of the 1890s evoke interior states, including extremes of passion and anguish. Munch also executed commissioned portraits, such as this life-size painting of Irmgard Steinbart, the daughter of a wealthy German banker. Steinbart’s body is elongated and dominates the pictorial space of the canvas. Gazing off to the side, hands clasped loosely, she displays a pensive expression possibly bordering on melancholy. The broken brushwork and vivid colors seem to vibrate across the surface of her dress, while the swirling strokes of the verdant landscape create a somewhat unsettling atmosphere in counterpart to the figure’s interior state. The visible brushwork also leaves traces of the artist’s hand, which is sometimes seen as indexical of the artist’s own subjective response to his subject. [Permanent collection label, 2017]