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Edvard Munch - Death in the Sickroom

Edvard Munch - Death in the Sickroom Medicine Biographies Famous People Victorian Age Visual Arts Tragedies and Triumphs

When Edvard Munch created this work - Death in the Sickroom - he was recalling what happened to his beloved sister, Sophie, who died of tuberculosis when Munch was fourteen.

There is a sense of sadness in the room. Sophie is sitting in the chair, although we cannot see her face. A supportive pillow is behind her back. Her father (a physician) and Aunt Karen (who cared-for the children after Munch’s mother died when he was five) are nearest to the dying girl.

Although we see the whole family, Munch has positioned himself in the center of the tempera-and-crayon-on-canvas, with his other sisters (Laura, with her head down, and Inger). Staring at Sophie, he is closer in age to the time when he created the painting (instead of the actual event). His brother Andreas, standing alone, is near the sickroom door.

Later in his life, Munch talks about the wicker chair:

In the same chair as I painted the sick one, I and all my dear ones from my mother on have been sitting winter after winter longing for the sun - until death took them away - I and all my dear ones from my father on have paced up and down the floor in anxiety. (Edvard Munch, quoted by Bente Torjusen in Words and Images of Edvard Munch published, in 1986, by Chelsea Green Publ. Co., Chelsea, Vt.)

Click on the image for a much-larger view.


Media Credits

Image, described above, online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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