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The Sick Child – Edvard Munch

A viewer, during the exhibition at the musée d’Orsay, confronted and emotionally overwhelmed by Munch’s “Sick Child”

The Sick Child draws upon Munch’s memory of his sister Sophie’s death from tuberculosis at the age of fifteen.

All record a moment before the death of his older sister Johanne Sophie (1862–1877) from tuberculosis at 15. Munch returned to this deeply traumatic event repeatedly in his art, over six completed oil paintings and many studies in various media, over a period of more than 40 years.

In the works, Sophie is typically shown on her deathbed accompanied by a dark-haired, grieving woman assumed to be her aunt Karen; the studies often show her in a cropped head shot.

The Sick Child became for Munch—who nearly died from tuberculosis himself as a child—a means to record both his feelings of despair and guilt that he had been the one to survive and to confront his feelings of loss for his late sister.

Each painting shows Sophie in profile, lying on her deathbed, and obviously having difficulty breathing, a symptom of advanced, severe tuberculosis

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