Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed

Munch, Edvard

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on canvas

Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra
  • Date of entry: Jul-27-2006
  • Last revised: Aug-23-2006


A figure stands left of center, erect and facing forward in a room. He is, as described by the painting's title, standing between the tall grandfather clock and the bed. Vibrantly colored and painted with a tumultuous energy, this image does not immediately connote Munch's typical themes of death and sickness. Yet his hands hang limply by his side, and the clock (sans hands or numerals) and bed can be understood symbolically, not only as a statement of the relationship between time and sleep, but also as to where Munch sees himself in his artistic career. (He appears to be stepping forward into the room, no longer concerned with time, "impassively awaiting death" (Loshak, p. 106).


This late self-portrait places Munch in his own colorful world, his pictures and artifacts surrounding him. Other self-portraits painted during this last decade of his life depict the figure even more mannequin, skeletal-like, and obviously aged.

A powerful contrast would be Alice Neel's frontal, full body Self-Portrait (see this database). At age 84, naked, she, too, is looking directly at the viewer, but with brush in hand and arm raised, obviously ready to continue painting.


Painted 1940-1942

Primary Source

Loshak, David. Munch. (New York: Mallard Press) 1990, pp. 106-107. (color)