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The Girl by the Window

Loosely painted scene of a brown-haired girl in her nightgown standing in a dark room, gazing out a window into a brighter night, her face unseen and her hand drawing back the pale curtain. Light blues and pink whites dominate the girl and the window, while deep browns, blues, and greens color the darkened portions of her room.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Loosely painted scene of a brown-haired girl in her nightgown standing in a dark room, gazing out a window into a brighter night, her face unseen and her hand drawing back the pale curtain. Light blues and pink whites dominate the girl and the window, while deep browns, blues, and greens color the darkened portions of her room.

Date:

1893

Artist:

Edvard Munch
Norwegian, 1863-1944

About this artwork

Edvard Munch’s life and art — particularly his iconic work The Scream (1893; National Museum, Oslo) — have come to epitomize modern notions of anxiety. Yet the same year he painted his radical image, Munch was experimenting with other styles and themes. Frequent visits to Paris and Berlin between 1889 and 1893 brought the Norwegian artist into direct contact with the Impressionists and Symbolists. These travels encouraged him to adopt their bold brushwork, daring compositions, and imagery. But he nonetheless continued to incorporate the Romantic subjects of the northern European artists long familiar to him, such as a lone figure at an open window. This combination is powerfully manifested in The Girl by the Window, made soon after his return home to Norway.

In the dead of night, a young girl in her nightgown stands in a darkened room gazing out at the city. The steep angle of the floor and the deep shadows that obliterate everything in the room, save a suggestion of a piece of furniture at the lower right, create an unsettling and enigmatic scene. Loosely applied, somber brown tones mingle with violets and blues, evoking a feeling of melancholy and anticipation. The window functions as a symbolic barrier, separating the interior from the outside world. The sense of mystery is deepened and complicated by the fact that we cannot see the expression on the girl’s face, nor do we know what she covertly observes. She in turn appears unaware that, as she gazes from behind the curtain at something unknown outside, the artist and implied viewer are watching her.

On View

Painting and Sculpture of Europe, Gallery 245

Artist

Edvard Munch

Title

The Girl by the Window

Origin

Norway

Date

1893

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Inscribed lower right: E - Munch

Dimensions

96.5 × 65.4 cm (38 × 25 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Searle Family Trust and Goldabelle McComb Finn endowments; Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection

Reference Number

2000.50

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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