Death in the Sickroom from 1893 goes back to the memory of sister Sophie’s death. She died of tuberculosis in 1877. The motif is one of a number of Munch’s portrayals of sickness, death and sorrow in the family.
In the sparsely furnished room the artist has painted himself together with his closest family - his brother, sisters, father and aunt. His 15-year-old sister is sitting in a chair with the back of the chair facing us.
Munch: Her last request was to get up out of the bed and sit in a chair. “I so much want to live”, she said, “I think we have such good times together”. But in that chair Sophie died…
In the picture, which Munch also called The Moment of Death, all the family members are portrayed at the ages they were when the motif was painted in 1893. It could be that Munch did this in order to express a dimension of contemporaneity – that the family would for ever be marked by the death of Sophie.
The large separated colour surfaces and the simplified forms limited by clear contours show ties with symbolism and synthetism and Paul Gauguin.
Munch painted two versions of Death in the Sickroom. Both paintings are to be found Oslo – one in the National Gallery and this one in the Munch Museum.