Summer Night at the Beach
Oil on canvas, 103 x 120 cm
From early youth, Edvard Munch devoted himself to landscapes, especially during his stays in Kristiana and the environs of Oslo. It was only natural that traditional Norwegian landscape painting served as his first source of inspiration. The distinctiveness of these early works lies in the precision and clarity of the depiction, characteristics which were augmented presumably through the use of optical aids such as a camera obscura or camera lucida.
His well-known unorthodox application of colour was one of the essential parameters Munch used to express his new and highly personal understanding of art, which was so different from that of all his contemporaries: “It was during the period of Realism and Impressionism. I found a landscape I truly wished to paint either when in an extremely agitated state of mind or in some cheerful mood. I drew my easel, set it up, and painted the image as nature presented it”.
For Edvard Munch landscape thus came to be a space into which he projected his moods and emotions. In 1892, during the summer months in Åsgårdstrand (Oslo fjord), Munch painted his first symbolic landscapes, among them the painting Sommernacht am Strand. On the occasion of Munch exhibition in Kristiania on September 14th 1982, a critic from the Aftenposten newspaper described the painting as follows: “I see moons that are reflected onto the earth four times, one below the other so that they appear to form a chain of gold coins above curious stone formations the perceptive impressionist discovered.
It is precisely this exceptional light effect that lends this painting an almost unreal atmosphere of mystical character, completely in keeping with Munch’s reflections: “The mystical will always be with us, emergent, the more it is discovered, the more inexplicable it will become.”