Jeg sitter i det eneste hyggelige huset jeg har boet i – i Åsgårdstrand

MUNCH IN BORRE

Stemmen, 1893, (c) Munch-museet/Munch-Ellingsen Gruppen/BONO 2013

Stemmen, 1893, (c) Munch-museet/Munch-Ellingsen Gruppen/BONO 2013

The Munch family spends the summer of 1885 in what was then the municipality of Borre (now Horten), and he visits Åsgårdstrand as well. His family rents the residence Grønlia from the family Deberitz, parents of the painter Per Deberitz. Deberitz relates his memories of Munch, how he always hurried about with large canvases, and how he painted pictures of boys bathing along the Borre’s long beach.
The painter Hans Heyerdahl spends his first summer in Åsgårdstrand this same year. Heyerdahl and Munch visit together during the holiday. This summer Munch also begins a love affair with Milly Thaulow (née Ihlen), a married woman. Her family had a summer house at Villa Solbakken near Borre church. Milly came to symbolise Munch’s encounter with the female gender: “I stood before the mystery of the woman – I gazed into another world.”
In later literary texts written by Munch, he mentions how they meet in secret, infatuated and inseparable on the beaches and in the forests of Åsgårdstrand and Borre. He describes the anguish and joy of their relationship. It has often been suggested that these experiences provided the background for many of the romantic motifs in Munch’s great artistic project of the 1890s, “The Frieze of Life”.
Pola Gaugin writes that Munch must have been drawn to Åsgårdstrand even then, that the landscape called to him: “There is something strange about the road along the sea from Borre to Åsgårdstrand. It is as if it draws people to it, causing them to gaze further out. The long curved line of glittering light on the edge of the shore – with its large, polished rocks rolling quietly and softly into the sea – is like a string of pearls. The eyes can’t help but follow.”

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