By the early 1900s Munch had become a recognised artist, especially in Germany, where he had spent much of his time in the 1890s. He also lived there for most of the period from 1902 to 1908.
For Munch personally, these were difficult years, marked by alcoholism, angst and unease. In the years 1904-1907 he painted a number of self-portraits with loneliness as a theme.
Self-Portrait with a Bottle of Wine was painted in Weimar in 1906. The artist sits at the table, alone with a bottle of wine, a glass and a plate. The hunched figure and the weak folded hands are an expression of utter helplessness.
The figure is placed well into the foreground. The sloping lines create a strong depth perspective in the picture. The head is in the centre, where all the lines meet.
The perspective created by the lines is countered by the use of colours, which creates a tense and claustrophobic atmosphere in the picture. The strong red colour behind the artist’s head creates a movement forward and draws our attention to the head.
Two figures resembling waiters are standing back-to-back in the background. They are pictured as have a shared body, and almost seem top have grown out of Munch’s own body. The two heads, each looking in different directions can be interpreted as metaphors for opposing forces in the artist’s soul. This split into two states of mind can be found in some other Munch pictures.