MunchFredrikstad - Fredrikstad and Hvaler - Visit Østfold

Fredrikstad and Munch

The two most important women in Munch’s life were born in Fredrikstad – his mother Laura Cathrine and her sister Karen Bjølstad, known as “Aunt Karen”.

In 2013 the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch's birth was celebrated. During the Munch year Edvard Munch and his family from Fredrikstad was honored in many ways.

Laura Cathrine Bjølstad was born in Fredrikstad on May 10th 1837. She would marry Christian Munch in Glemmen Church and in 1863 give birth to one of the world´s greatest artists, Edvard Munch. A few years after the birth of Laura Cathrine her sister Karen Bjølstad came into the world. This girl would become Edvard Munch´s beloved "Aunt Karen", an unusual and creative woman who saw and understood the extraordinary talent in her nephew.


Munch and Fredrikstad

Laura Cathrine married Dr Christian Munch in Glemmen Church in Fredrikstad in 1861. When Edvard was five years old, in 1868, his mother, age 31, died of tuberculosis. Aunt Karen had moved in to assist and now she took everyday responsibility for the family – five children and an impractical brother-in-law. 

Aunt Karen was likely the first to recognise her nephew’s artistic talents and her encouragement and support had a big impact on Munch. She also ensured that the Munch children retained contact with their maternal family. They went on summer visits to Fredrikstad and they met with aunts and uncles in Kristiania. Munch was concerned about his genetic inheritance from his mother’s side. He felt this was the source of his “weak lungs”, but he was also grateful to his old grandfather Bjølstad, a sea captain and a merchant, for his obstinacy and endurance. When his grandfather was on his deathbed in 1888, Munch travelled to Fredrikstad to do his portrait.

Artwork from Fredrikstad 

Drawing of Grandfather Bjølstad (early drawing - undated)
"Grandfather Bjølstad deathbed" (from Storgaten 26) from 1888
"Notbinderen" from 1888 painted on Hankø (privately owned, Switzerland)


About Edvard Munch 

Edvard Munch ( born 12 December 1863 in Løten – died 23 January 1944 in Aker) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of the main tenets of late 19th-century Symbolism and greatly influenced German Expressionism in the early 20th century. One of his most well-known works is The Scream of 1893.

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