Exclusive: Munch's 'Vampire' comes out of the dark after 70 years

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Painting too 'degenerate' for the Nazis to be auctioned for $35m

One of the most sensational and shocking images in European art, Edvard Munch's painting of a man locked in a vampire's tortured embrace – her molten-red hair running along his soft bare skin – created an instant outcry when unveiled a century ago.

Some believed the Norwegian artist's anguished 1894 masterpiece, Love and Pain – since known as Vampire – to be a reference to his illicit visits to prostitutes; others interpreted it as a macabre fantasy about the death of his favourite sister. Some years later, Nazi Germany condemned it as morally "degenerate".

Vampire has become one of Munch's most sought-after and reproduced images, despite remaining in the hands of a private collector for the past 70 years.

The painting will go on the open market, The Independent can reveal, and is anticipated to smash the $31m (£17m) auction record for a Munch work. Vampire, which is often seen as the sister of The Scream, completed just months earlier, will be sold at a Sotheby's auction in New York for an estimated $35m.

The painting was part of Munch's seminal 20-work series The Frieze of Life, which included The Scream. It is the most significant version of four Vampires he completed in 1893 and 1894, and was first exhibited in 1902 in Berlin, where his works caused shock and awe.

Vampire was sold to the avid Munch collector, John Anker, in 1903, and is the only work from the original series in private hands. It was acquired by a private collection from Anker and his wife, Nini Roll, in 1934, and has since remained there – albeit loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until last year. Vampire has not been since in Britain since 1974. Simon Shaw, head of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's in New York, said: "There have been past Munch works to be sold in recent times, such as a wonderful group of works in 2006 and a painting earlier this year, but this one is a real, knock 'em dead masterpiece."

Vampire caused a sensation when it was unveiled, touching on turn-of-the-century fears about women's liberation. Some critics were outraged by its perverse, almost sado-masochistic depiction of passion.

Mr Shaw added: "It was shocking to Berlin society just as it is shocking today."

Munch, however, always insisted it was nothing more than "just a woman kissing a man on the neck".

The work also became the basis for several pastels, woodcuts, lithographs and prints, one of which will be sold at Sotheby's in London on 2 October, entitled Vampire II and estimated to fetch up to £400,000. The painting will be on view in London from 3 to 7 October, and then in Moscow, before it is sold in New York on 3 November.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband