Exercise #5 – Answers

The Sick Child (1907) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), Tate Modern, U.K., public domain.

Q1. What strikes you most about the young girl in the picture? Does she look well?

A1. She does not look well. The most striking feature of her appearance is her pallor against her bright red hair as she looks at the woman to her left.

Q2. Where is she?

A2. She is in a room with green walls and a dark curtain on the right beside a window. She is sitting in a chair with a high rounded back which is seen above the very large pillow propping her up. This indicates that she requires help with breathing.

Q3. How do you interpret the body language of the lady on the right?

A3. Her head is bowed as if in grief as she holds the young girl’s hand.

Q4. What extra information has the artist provided to help interpret the painting?

A4. The glass of water on the front bottom right of the painting is stained with red which is most likely blood. This hemoptysis would indicate that the young girl is suffering from tuberculosis.


Tuberculosis was a common disease at the time. Indeed both Munch’s mother and sister died of the disease.