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The Sick Child by Edvard Munch
The Sick Child is the title given to a group of six paintings and a number of lithographs, drypoints and etchings completed by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch between 1885 and 1926. 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.
In all the painted versions Sophie is sitting in a chair, obviously suffering from pain, propped by a large white pillow, looking towards an ominous curtain likely intended as a symbol of death. She is shown with a haunted expression, clutching hands with a grief-stricken older woman who seems to want to comfort her but whose head is bowed as if she cannot bear to look the younger girl in the eye.
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