Self-Portrait Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940 by Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch painted 43 self portrait over a span of six decades, in many of his self-portraits Munch depicts himself as ill, pitiable and lonely but without any form of sentimentality. The artist looks his own life in the eyes without any cover-up.

In Self-Portrait Between the Clock and the Bed, Munch depicts himself as an unhappy, aging older man. Behind him is a bright room full of light and past paintings, but he has placed his current self between a clock and a bed, symbolizing the inevitable passing of time and where he will eventually lay down for the final time. Few artists have ever seen their own old age with such terrifying clarity as Munch. Compared with this illusionless recognition of imminent mortality, the late works of Rembrandt's self portrait seem self-congratulatory. Time is ticking away in the shape of a solemn grandfather clock. A single bed, covered with a stylish modern pattern of diagonal lines, testifies to his solitude. The artist himself seems frozen, flattened, already seeing himself as a stiffened corpse. He was to die, soon after painting this austere farewell, in 1944.