The artist would build a strong relationship with Eva Mudocci which lasted many years. They were connected through both romance and also friendship, with the two alternating in importance over time. There was a great mutual respect for each other, with Mudocci being a highly talented violinist from the UK who would regularly tour throughout Europe. They first got together in Paris, 1903, and would soon build up a strong feeling of trust which they managed to continue for many years despite both of them travelling frequently. She was a beautiful woman who was ideally suited as a muse for Munch but their own emotional connection was of additional importance in then achieving just what they did together. The lithograph is dated at 1903, which would have been very early on in their exciting relationship, where romance was very present.
In this portrait she looks off to her left, seemingly in reflective mood. Her hair dominates much of the scene, though also blending in with the equally dark background. The light is saved entirely for her face and the brooch that she wears around her neck. Munch delicately delivers the facial features, understanding their prominence within this piece. Her look is model-like, with a long, slim nose, large eyes and very precise lips. One can easily understand her celebrity-status at the time, for she could easily pass as a singer or model with such looks. As it turned out, she was an exceptionally gifted violinist who would play alongside pianist Bella Edwards as a popular duo. They would visit Norway for shows, but would meet up with Munch in other locations as he also travelled for his work too.
This has become known as one of the artist's finest female portraits and research has uncovered that the brooch was actually a gift to the violinist from Jens Thiis in 1901. He was himself an art historian so would have been known to Edvard as well. It is likely that many men were fighting for the attentions of this highly skilled and beautiful young woman at that time. One can also connect this lithograph to Munch's earlier piece, Madonna, with a similarly moody background and a reflective pose which continues into so many of his paintings. It has been important for art historians studying the life of this talented artist to research his relationships in detail because it would be there emotions that would lie behind so much of his work, with portraiture being his most common genre. You will also find a similar contrast of light and dark within some of Munch's other lithographic designs.