Lithograph printed in black on medium heavy cream wove and hand-colored with water-colour in green, blue, orange, pink, red and yellow
Sheet: 558x999 mm Image: 380x840 mm
Signed in pencil lower right: Edv Munch
Laminated on heavy cardboard.
Auctioned Wednesday November 27 2019 at 18:00
NOK 600,000–800,000 USD 64,800–86,400 EUR 58,400–77,900
LITERATURE: Johan H. Langaard and Reidar Revold: Edvard Munch Aula-dekorasjonene (Edvard Munch The University Festival Hall Decorations), Oslo 1960.
In 1911 Edvard Munch had made a painting as a pendant to History in the University Festival Hall, called the Researchers. Here children seem to find something on the beach worth researching, while the mother sits calmly, placed frontally, with her children around her. This version seems to have a double meaning, symbolizing both Research and Fertility. For this reason it was criticised, it seemed to echo the painting hanging opposite to it, History, which also symbolized Research and Generations passing. Edvard Munch agreed, so he continued to work on this panel.
In his continuing work Munch tried to avoid these weaknesses. Through a multiple of schetches and photographs from different stages of the new version, it is possible to follow the work in progress.
It starts with the landscape changing. The figures are placed in a green and lush inland nature, taken from Hvitsten, where in 1911 Munch bought the property Ramme - well in view of a stronger contrast to "History". He is also experimenting with the tree that is supposed to correspond to the oak tree in "History", but still must not have too much similarity. He brings more children into the composition, while at the same time he seems to place more emphasis on their play than on their researchers' urge. P. 44.
This lithograph of Alma Mater with the playful children hand-colored in watercolor on the sheet, shows this stage in the development of the motif.
And finally he takes the decisive step - going back to his fjord landscape with the well-known Åsgårdstrand-inspired shoreline, removing the researching children and leaving the woman as the dominant figure, only surrounded by the smallest of the children. Also, the mother herself changes to a certain degree, becoming heavier, more buxom. This is how he achieves a concentration of the subject. The picture is now exclusively concentrated on "Alma Mater". P. 44-45.