Madonna (Munch painting)

Version from Munch Museum, Oslo. 1894. 90 cm × 68 cm (35 in × 27 in). It was stolen in 2004 and recovered two years later.
Version from National Gallery of Norway, Oslo. 1894–95. 91 cm × 70.5 cm (35.8 in × 27.8 in).
Version from Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg. 1895. 90 cm × 71 cm (35 in × 28 in)

Madonna is the usual title given to a composition by the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch. Munch painted several versions of the composition, showing a bare-breasted half-length female figure, between 1892 and 1895, using oils on canvas. He also produced versions in print form.[1]

The version owned by the Munch Museum of Oslo was stolen in 2004 but recovered two years later. Two other versions are owned by the National Gallery of Norway and the Kunsthalle Hamburg. Another one is owned by businessman Nelson Blitz, and one was bought in 1999 by Steven A. Cohen.

The lithographic print of the composition is distinguished by a decorative border depicting wriggling sperm, with a fetus-like figure in its bottom left corner. The 1893 version of the painting had a frame with similar decoration, but it was later removed and lost.[1] The print also exists in a number of different versions.

Title

Although it is a highly unusual representation, this painting might be of the Virgin Mary. Whether the painting is specifically intended as a representation of Mary is disputed. Munch used more than one title, including both "Loving Woman" and "Madonna".[1] Munch is not famous for religious artwork and was not known as a Christian. The affinity to Mary might as well be intended nevertheless, as an emphasis on the beauty and perfection of his friend Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska, the model for the work, and an expression of his worship of her as an ideal of womanhood.[2]

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