Death in the Sickroom, 1895 by Edvard Munch

Reverting to the theme of the death of Sophie, Munch produced a work very different from The Sick Child. Now the whole family is shown, and the emphasis shifts from the experience of the dying girl to that of the mourning relatives. The child sits facing diagonally to the rear, largely invisible both to us and to all the mourners except her praying father; she is already absent from their lives. What we do see of her is partly transparent, as though she were already beginning to dematerialize. Each of the mourners reacts differently and there is no intercourse among them; confronted with the loneliness of death, each retreats into his or her lonely self. The younger sister Laura, in the extreme foreground, is the only other figure seated, in a profile pose of sorrowful meditation. Possibly her position echoing that of her sister indicates that she too was destined to suffer at an early age from an incurable illness, though mental instead of physical. Or perhaps the whole scene behind her pictures her distorted memory of the terrifying event. The painting is very much in Munch's version of the synthetist style - flattened areas enclosed by strong contours. The receding floorboards converge towards different vanishing points approximately on a horizontal axis, thus flouting naturalistic perspective. This has the effect of both flattening and widening the room.