Madonna is a pretty woman whose model Dagny Juel was admired by the artist. She is nude and standing, displayed down to the hips. The head is tilted back and the closed eyes are waiting for pleasure. The red lips express pain according to the explanation provided by the artist and bring this ambiguous idol close to the Vampyr, another of the favorite themes of Munch at the same time. The sinister background marks the uncertainty of the future.
Munch designed for his first Madonna painting the red blood frame on which sperms are slipping and which is broken at the bottom left to display the fetus, a symbol of death since it is lethal outside a woman's body. This unique frame was not kept.
The painting is preceding the lithograph in black and white, which is the subject of various color trials by the artist for choosing the best balance for his future color lithographs.
The original edition of the Madonna lithograph was printed in 1895 in an image size 61 x 46 cm. The prints hand colored by the artist are probably all different. One of them was sold for £ 1.25M including premium by Bonhams on July 13, 2010. Another picture in more tragic colors is estimated $ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 23, lot 96.
In 1902, the seventh and final state is edited in the same size with strident red and blue. A print is estimated $ 450K by Sotheby's as lot 97 in the same sale.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
1895 hand colored print : $ 730K
1902 color print : $ 590K