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Edvard Munch—A Northern Aesthetic

Poached Salmon in Dill Sauce 1

Poached Salmon in Dill Sauce 2

By Tim Hazell

Edvard Munch (1863–1944) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intense, evocative treatment of psychological themes greatly influenced early twentieth-century German Expressionism. His best-known series is The Scream, painted in 1893. The artist was born in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, to Laura Catherine and Christian Munch. The family moved to Christiania (renamed Kristiania in 1877, and now Oslo) in 1864. Edvard’s mother died of tuberculosis in 1868, as did his beloved sister Sophie in 1877. After their mother’s passing, the Munch siblings were raised by their father and their aunt, Karen. Often ill and kept out of school, Edvard would draw to keep himself occupied.

His father’s positive behavior was overshadowed by an obsessive, morbid pietism. Munch later wrote, “My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious to the point of psychoneurosis. From him, I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow, and death have stood by my side since the day I was born.”

In 1881, Munch enrolled at the Royal School of Art and Design. After numerous experiments with different mediums and genres of painting, he concluded that Impressionism did not allow for sufficient expression and felt a need to investigate other sources of intense creative energy. By 1892, Munch had formulated his characteristic Synthetist approach: the uniting of different art forms into an artistic whole that aesthetically organized material and spiritual environments. Color was considered a symbol-laden element.

The artist’s theme for his paintings, pastels, and lithograph versions of The Scream is considered one of the most powerful images in the art world. Rendered with broad bands of raw color and simplified forms, the work depicts an agonized figure in the throes of an emotional crisis and has been interpreted as representing the universal anxiety of modern times.

Norway’s glacial waters abound with fish, as its healthy population can attest. Here is a delicious Norwegian recipe that brings out the best in salmon!


Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce


3 salmon fillets

3 tsp salt

5 whole peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 medium onion, quartered

1 tbsp vinegar


Yogurt Dill Sauce:

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumbers

1 sprig dill, chopped

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/2 teaspoon paprika


Lemon slices and fresh dill for garnish.



Put enough water into a stock pot to cover fillets, and bring to boil. Add salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, quartered onion, and vinegar. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add fillets, cover with lid, and gently simmer for a further 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let fish rest in stock until ready to serve. Remove fillets with spatula. Strain stock and freeze for soups and sauces. Combine dill sauce ingredients. Garnish fillets with lemon slices and dill sprigs. Serve with steamed vegetables of choice and red potatoes topped with butter and dill sauce on the side.


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