Essay by child_of_wishesHigh School, 12th gradeA-, June 2004

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"A self-portrait is more than a likeness it captures the 'reality' of the person."

Many artists express themselves through self-portraits to portray how they interpret themselves and the world around them. Three artists that depict this are; Edward Munch, Salvador Dali and Rembrandt Harmensz Van Rijn.

A Norwegian painter and graphic artist, Munch concentrated his artworks on illustrating the emotions from deep inside. Munch led a sad life, with his parents, brother and sister all dying while he was still young, he suffered from depression in later life. This bleakness and pessimism shows through in his art, as common themes in his work include; the stages of life, relationships, love, death and the fear of living. However in his later paintings Munch showed more interest in nature and his work became more colourful and less pessimistic. Regarded as a pioneer in the expressionist movement in modern painting, Munch was recognised in Germany and Central Europe as one of the creators of a new era.

In 1885 Munch embarked on a short study tour to Paris and his work began to show the influence of French painters. Between 1892 and 1908 Munch spent a lot of his time in Paris and Berlin; where he became known for his prints, lithographs and woodcuts. After 1910 Munch returned to Norway, where he lived and painted until his death.

"Self-portrait with skeleton arm" is one of the first known lithographs that Munch has produced. The basic design is drawn in chalk with a thick ink wash brushed over to create a solid black. The skeleton arm placed at the bottom of the picture gives the viewer an unnerving reminder of death.

Shown in front of a pitch black background is the almost glowing portrait of Munch showing us only his head and...