“Sickness, madness and death were the black angels who watched over my cradle,” Munch said.
Death in the Sickroom shows what we can assume to be the artist’s family grouped around his sister Sophie, who died in 1877. She is sitting in a chair with her back to us. To the right stands an aunt, Karen Bjølstad, who moved in with the family to take care of the children and the household after the mother died of tuberculosis in 1868. In the background stands the father, the doctor Christian Munch, with his hands clasped as if in prayer. Near the center of the picture is a male figure, probably Edvard, in quarter-face. Sister Laura is sitting in the foreground with her hands in her lap, while the third sister, Inger, stands staring straight at us. The male figure to the left is generally identified as Edvard’s younger brother Andreas. In Death in the Sickroom there is no physical contact between the people, except for the hand that aunt Karen has laid on the back of the chair in which the invalid sits.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.