Christmas in the Brothel is from 1905. There’s a tree, a woman with little black book and pencil, a man reading, figures in the background and empty space. To me it shows ordinariness, everyday life. The word brothel is in the title, but it could be any bar. If you like Christmas you may like that they celebrate it in the brothel, too. Or if you feel unhappy at Christmas you may like to know there was a place to go and be alone with other people.
Munch painted other pictures that don’t have such a keyword in their names but represent brothel scenes.
Viewers may read anything they like into these depictions: Whether the characters are happy or sad, whether they drink too much, whether the venues are nice or nasty. Munch frequented them, that much is clear.
Laura Agustín – The Naked Anthropologist