Love at First Bite
Painted just months after The Scream, Edvard Munch’s Vampire (1894) will be a highlight of Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 3 in New York. Part of the artist’s Frieze of Life series—which includes The Scream and explores the themes of life, love, fear, death, and melancholy—the work is expected to bring in an excess of $35 million.
The painting is thought to have been originally titled Love and Pain, possibly depicting two lovers enmeshed in a torturous embrace. It is reported that upon seeing the work, critic Stanislaw Przybyszewski, a friend of Munch’s, thought the woman in the painting resembled a vampire, perhaps forever changing its name and meaning.
Years after the work was painted, the male subject, Munch acquaintance Adolf Paul, recalled his visit to the studio the day the artist was beginning the painting. Munch asked Paul to pose with the artist’s model, who Paul described as having “long, flame-red hair that fell over her shoulders like congealed blood.” “ ‘Kneel down in front of her!’ he shouted at me,” continued Paul. “ ‘Place your head against her.’ She leaned over me and pressed her lips against my neck, her red hair spilling over me. Munch started painting, and before long he had completed his Vampire.”
This year’s evening sale will also include works by Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Kandinsky, Malevich, van Gogh, Pissarro, Giacometti, Modigliani, and others. (212.606.7000, www.sothebys.com)