Auction Wednesday December 9 2015 at 15:00
Munch, Edvard(1863-1944)
The Roulette Table

Intaglio print printed in black on heavy Japan paper

Sheet: 434x629 mm Image: 263x435 mm
Signed in pencil lower right: Edv Munch
Printer’s signature in pencil lower left: O Felsing Berlin gdr.
Woll 234 b.

NOK 300,000–350,000

Auctioned Wednesday December 9 2015 at 15:00

Hammer price NOK 330,000

LITERATURE: Gerd Woll: Edvard Munch – Complete Paintings, Oslo 2008, cf. cat. nos. 261, 262 and 263.
Gerd Woll: Edvard Munch – The complete graphic Works, Oslo 2012, 234 b.
Sivert Thue: “From Types on the promenade to dissecting the soul with pen and paper», Edvard Munch Works on Paper, exhibition catalogue Munch Museum 2.11.2013-02.03.2014, Oslo 2013, p. 110-127.

The same subject appears in a painting of 1892 (MM M 50, Woll 263). The etching is a reversed version. Woll 2012, p. 215.

In all Munch painted three pictures with motifs from the casino at Monte Carlo, where he was a frequent visitor during his stay on the Riviera in the winter of 1891-92. Woll 2008, p. 245.

Two of the pictures have the title Gamblers in Monte Carlo, Woll 261 and 262, while the picture forming the basis for the etching, Woll 263, has the title At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo. (See photo this page).

Dostoyevsky’s novel The Gambler of 1866, was published in Norwegian in 1889.

All the same, the distance between love and gambling is not so very great. Indeed, this is one of the themes of Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler”. Like love, gambling can also rule people’s lives. This is made very clear in both Munch’s texts and the motifs from the casino. The moment that can change the course of your life becomes very real at the roulette wheel. As the ball lands you may have won a fortune or lost everything. But even if you win, have you not lost all the same?

In her article on Munch’s roulette paintings, Allison Morehead writes: “Demonstrating Munch’s concerted efforts to depict what he understood to be the complex psycho-pathology of betting on chance, the roulette paintings reveal the artist’s search, on the eve of his avant-garde success in Berlin, for a properly symbolist method to convey the singular experience of madness in Monte Carlo”. Morehead’s view sums up an important moment – the roulette motif in Munch’s art represents the start of a new period, in which the formal language of his paintings is adapted to a new type of theme: The irrational in people. In the rooms of the casino, urges, dreams, and emotions were competing against more or less rational gambling systems and in Munch’s pictures, rationality and the gambling systems are the losers. Thue, p. 119-123.