There are two painted versions of The Voice. The one which is regarded as the first is owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The other, dating from 1894, belongs to the Munch Museum.
When the Boston version was exhibited in Berlin in 1893, The Voice was presented as the first in a series Munch called Study in a series: Love. The series was the start of what was later to be called the Frieze of Life.
From the beginning of the 1890s there is a stronger sense of atmosphere in Munch’s pictures. We can see this in The Voice, where the deep blue hues and the long rhythmical lines reflecting the curves of the shoreline give the picture a feel of nature mysticism. In Munch’s works from this period we can sense the influence of Whistler, Böcklin, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
The Voice was inspired by the nature around Aasgaardsstrand, where Munch usually spent his summers.
The painting has a very strict composition, dominated as it is by the vertical lines of the pine trees and the standing figure of the woman contrasting with the horizontal shoreline.
The beam of moonlight reflected in the water has been interpreted as a phallic symbol underlining the erotic content of the picture.
According to Munch himself, the woman in the foreground refers to the memory of his first love, Milly Thaulow, a married woman he met in 1885, and who he later referred to in his notes as Fru Heiberg.