Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s painting “Jealousy” is an iconic representation of the human emotion. Munch returned to this image throughout his whole life, completing no less than 11 painted versions, with the first executed in 1895 and the last being made during the 1930s. The painting depicts two men and a woman, and it’s clear that jealousy is the core theme.
Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist who preoccupied himself with matters of human mortality like chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration. His personal struggles with anxiety, alienation, love, jealousy, and death were necessarily recurring themes in his work. This is emphasized in “Jealousy”, where one of the men looks at us with staring eyes while the other stares directly at the woman as if vying for her attention.
While not explicitly stated in any versions of “Jealousy,” it can be inferred that both men are fighting over possession or dominance over the woman who stands between them. This central tension contributes to making this artwork such an iconographic masterpiece about envy and desire. Munch has showcased his incredible talent to narrate powerful narratives through his use of color schemes and brushstrokes expertly capturing raw human emotions like jealousy we cannot help ourselves from feeling or witnessing daily.